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Twins quartet departs to play in WBC '17

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The clubhouse at Hammond Stadium was noticeably thinner on Monday, as left-hander Hector Santiago, right-hander Jose Berrios, left fielder Eddie Rosario and first baseman Kennys Vargas departed to join Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic

The four players will train in Arizona before heading to Mexico, where their first game is on Friday against Venezuela in Jalisco. Santiago and Berrios -- along with Mets right-hander Seth Lugo -- make up Puerto Rico's rotation, while Rosario is expected to see time in center and right, and Vargas will be at first base. Twins Minor League right-hander Dereck Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, is also part of the designated pitcher pool.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The clubhouse at Hammond Stadium was noticeably thinner on Monday, as left-hander Hector Santiago, right-hander Jose Berrios, left fielder Eddie Rosario and first baseman Kennys Vargas departed to join Team Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic

The four players will train in Arizona before heading to Mexico, where their first game is on Friday against Venezuela in Jalisco. Santiago and Berrios -- along with Mets right-hander Seth Lugo -- make up Puerto Rico's rotation, while Rosario is expected to see time in center and right, and Vargas will be at first base. Twins Minor League right-hander Dereck Rodriguez, the son of Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez, is also part of the designated pitcher pool.

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:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"I think turning it up will lead to good things for our season," Santiago said. "It gets that Opening Day feeling out of the way. That's what it's going to be like, just three weeks early. It'll be a good tuneup to face good competition. It's going to be a crazy crowd."

Twins manager Paul Molitor, however, has a few concerns, namely how Berrios will be used. Santiago is expected to start Saturday against Team Mexico, and Berrios is likely to start Sunday against Team Italy, but the Twins haven't heard anything definitive yet about Berrios, who is competing for the fifth spot in Minnesota's rotation.

"How Jose's going to be used and if he's not getting work or a situation where he goes more than he should, I don't know how those guys are going to decide," Molitor said. "I still want to hear a little bit more. We haven't gotten a very clear idea, haven't gotten a lot of specifics on how his work is going to unfold. We kind of need to know that."

Video: MIN@PHI: Berrios, May solid vs. Phillies

Berrios, though, is excited to participate in the WBC '17 for a second time, as he and Rosario both played in 2013, when Puerto Rico made a surprise run to the championship game, only to lose to the Dominican Republic.

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

"It's an honor to represent my country," Berrios said. "I'm proud and it's going to be a lot of fun. Last time was a big experience for me. Everyone wants to play in the Majors, but when you get a chance to play for your country, it happens only every four years."

Video: Reynolds on Team USA opening Classic play on Friday

It'll be the first World Baseball Classic for Vargas, who is the only first baseman on the roster, which features budding superstars Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa and Javier Baez in the infield. He's also the only player from the small town of Canóvanas, which he said brings him even more pride.

"It's a dream to play for my country," Vargas said. "Everybody in my town is going crazy. I'm the only player in my town. So, I'm excited to play for Puerto Rico and for my city."

Video: Vargas possible surprise candidate for Twins in 2017

Like Berrios, Vargas is competing for a spot on the roster, as he's in a battle for the starting designated hitter role, along with non-roster invitees ByungHo Park and Ben Paulsen. But Molitor said strong showings by either player could help their cause this spring.

"The farther they go, the bigger the game and you see the intensity," Molitor said. "They're serious about what they're going to be doing and what they're playing for. So it could help."

Video: Team USA is getting ready for the Classic

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast.

Minnesota Twins, Jose Berrios, Kennys Vargas