Felix heads four Mariners named to WBC squads

FelixMariners ace Felix Hernandez was named to Venezuela’s provisional roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic on Thursday and will be one of four Major Leaguers from Seattle expected to compete in the international tournament this spring.

Also named on provisional rosters released by Major League Baseball were outfielder Michael Saunders (Canada), left-handed reliever Oliver Perez (Mexico) and third baseman Alex Liddi (Italy).

Six players affiliated with the Mariners’ Minor League system were also selected for provisional rosters. Final rosters are due Feb. 20, prior to the start of the March tournament.

Four of Seattle’s Minor Leaguers are on Brazil’s team:  shortstop Pedro Okuda, left-handed pitcher Luiz Gohara and right-handers Jean Tome and Thyago Vieira. Okuda and Vieira played for the Venezuelan Rookie League Mariners last year, Tome competed in the Brazilian League and Gohara is a 16-year-old who has yet to play pro ball.

Kalian Sams, an outfielder with Double-A Jackson last year, has been selected to the Netherlands, while right-handed pitcher Wei Wang will play for China. Wang, 34, didn’t play in the Mariners system last year.

Hernandez, Saunders, Perez and Liddi are all on the Mariners’ 40-man roster and will begin Spring Training as normal next month when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 12, then join their national teams in early March to prepare for the first-round of games from March 7-10.

Hernandez will have his first-round action in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where Pool C play is slated against the Dominican Republic, Spain and Puerto Rico.

Hernandez is part of a stocked Venezuela squad that consists entirely of MLB players, including Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Pablo Sandoval and Asdrubral Cabrera. Venezuela’s pitching staff will include Anibal Sanchez, Carlos Zambrano, Francisco Rodriguez, Edward Mujica, Jose Mijares, J.C. Gutierrez, Ronald Belisario and Henderson Alvarez, in addition to Hernandez.

Saunders, Perez and Liddi will stay in Phoenix for Pool D play, which has the United States, Canada, Italy and Mexico squaring off at Salt River Fields and Chase Field.

The top two teams in each of those pools advance to second-round action at Marlins Park in Miami from March 12-16. The four-team championship round will be in San Francisco from March 17-19.

Participants will thus miss between 10-20 days of Mariners’ Spring Training, depending how their teams fare, before rejoining the club in preparation for the April 1 season opener in Oakland.

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