Globe iconLogin iconRecap iconSearch iconTickets icon
news

MLB News

Team USA's work starts on MLB Network, MLB.TV

Venezuela-Puerto Rico meet in Pool D; Wheeler debuts for Mets
MLB.com

The World Baseball Classic has been underway four full days already, but a constellation of MLB stars are ready to come out tonight when the United States, Venezuela and Puerto Rico play their first games.

Thursday night featured plenty of star power, as Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Carlos Martinez led the Dominican Republic to a 9-2 win over Canada in their first Classic content, and we'll see numerous other All-Stars seeing their first action of the tournament this evening.

The World Baseball Classic has been underway four full days already, but a constellation of MLB stars are ready to come out tonight when the United States, Venezuela and Puerto Rico play their first games.

Thursday night featured plenty of star power, as Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes and Carlos Martinez led the Dominican Republic to a 9-2 win over Canada in their first Classic content, and we'll see numerous other All-Stars seeing their first action of the tournament this evening.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey, Giancarlo Stanton and the Americans, seeking their first WBC title in their fourth try, open round-robin play within the confines of Marlins Park on home soil against Colombia in Pool C at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Meanwhile, in an arguably more star-studded matchup, Venezuela -- led by Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera and Rougned Odor -- meets Puerto Rico -- featuring Carlos Beltran, Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor -- in both countries' debut in Pool D in Jalisco, Mexico. Back in the Grapefruit and Cactus leagues MLB teams continue to prepare for the season with a little more than three weeks until Opening Day.

Video: VEN@TEX: CarGo unloads a solo homer to right

Fans can follow much of this spring's action live on MLB.TV.

MLB.TV Premium is only $112.99 for the entire season. In addition to getting every out-of-market game live or on demand during the regular season, you can watch nearly 300 Spring Training games live and blackout free, plus the World Baseball Classic live (U.S. only). This package has the best value and provides access to more than 400 devices and a free subscription to the MLB.com At Bat Premium app (a $19.99 value). It offers the best picture quality ever -- at 60 frames per second -- for supported devices, while other great features include choice of home or away broadcasts, live game DVR, multi-game viewing and more. Monthly signups for MLB.TV Premium are now underway as well for $24.99, and the MLB.TV Single Team package is also available as an $87.49 yearly subscription.

Here's what to watch for throughout the day (all times ET):

All-Star pitching matchup: COL@USA, 6 p.m., MLB Network and MLB.TV
In a pitching matchup pitting a pair of favorites to start Opening Day, USA's Chris Archer (9-9, 4.02 ERA in '16) will square off against Colombia's Jose Quintana (13-12, 3.20).

Video: Archer is very proud to be playing for Team USA

Worth watching will be manager Jim Leyland's lineup selection. With a wealth of offensive talent to go around a limited number of at-bats, who gets the nod -- and where in the order -- will be of intrigue. To ponder: Paul Goldschmidt or Eric Hosmer at first base, Christian Yelich or Andrew McCutchen in the outfield, and so on.

Also, bullpen strategies, as with every team in the WBC, figure to be significant, with both Archer and Quintana limited to 65 pitches as part of first-round regulations.

For Arenado, the U.S. third baseman, there's an added sense of special surrounding what will be his WBC debut.

Video: USA@MIN: Arenado drills a two-run double to left

"I know there will be a point during that first game when I'll be like, 'Wow, I can't believe that I'm wearing the Team USA colors right now and hearing the national anthem play,'" Arenado wrote in a recent piece for the Players' Tribune. "I'm sure I'll have the goose bumps going."

Pool D favorites square off: VEN@PUR, 9 p.m., MLB.TV
With a combined 13 All-Stars -- most notably via their remarkable infielders -- Venezuela and Puerto Rico begin round-robin play in this opener in what figures to be a matchup of the two favorites to advance from Pool D.

Video: Childhood friends Baez, Lindor excited for Classic

Six-time All-Star and former Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez, 30, will take the hill for Venezuela in his second WBC after missing the '13 event. He'll be opposed by crafty right-hander Seth Lugo and the curveball he boasts with incredibly high spin.

Venezuela shared a pool with Puerto Rico in the '13 WBC but was the odd team out after failing to advance with the eventual champion Domincan Republic also to beat.

Hamels makes Cactus debut: TEX@LAD, 9:05 p.m., MLB.TV
A pair of postseason teams from '16 meet in a nightcap -- but, perhaps more notably, Rangers All-Star Cole Hamels will make his Spring Training debut.

Hamels has been sticking with a long schedule this spring. Scattered over 30 pitches, Hamels tossed a 'B' game against Minor Leaguers earlier this week and gave up three runs (two earned) while striking out two.

Video: Hamels pitches for first time in Spring Training

For the banged-up Dodgers, righty Brandon McCarthy will make his second spring start. Manager Dave Roberts said he was happy with the 33-year-old's debut last Friday.

Wheeler makes first start since '15: NYM@ATL, 1:05 p.m., Gameday Audio
Zack Wheeler's tumultuous road back from Tommy John surgery will reach a monumental milestone on Friday. After a slew of setbacks and a cautious spring, the hard-hurling righty will make his Grapefruit League debut against the Braves.

Video: Wheeler discusses making progress during his rehab

"I'm kind of nervous about, like, [pitching] in the stretch with a guy on first base, balking," Wheeler said. "You feel like you haven't played the game in 10 years."

Wheeler is among a trio of Lugo and Robert Gsellman competing for the Mets' fifth rotation spot. More >

Daniel Kramer is a reporter for MLB.com based in Denver. Follow him on Twitter at @DKramer_.