World Baseball Classic adds qualifying round

Sports Network

, Last Updated: 12:44 PM ET

NEW YORK -- The World Baseball Classic has added a qualifying round for the 2013 event.

A 16-team qualifying round will be held in the autumn of 2012 to determine the final four teams for the 16-team WBC field in the spring of 2013. The expansion now gives a total of 28 countries a chance to compete.

"Growing the game of baseball around the globe is the primary objective of the World Baseball Classic," said Major League Baseball commissioner Bud Selig in a statement. "By expanding the competitive field for the 2013 tournament, we are demonstrating our commitment to this goal and reinforcing that the World Baseball Classic is the premier showcase of baseball around the globe."

The qualifying round will feature four pools of four teams in a six-game modified double-elimination format. The winners from each of the four pools will join the 12 countries that received automatic bids based on their 2009 WBC performance.

Australia, China, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Puerto Rico, the United States and Venezuela have already earned automatic bids for 2013. Japan won each of the first two tournaments.

Canada, Taiwan, Panama and South Africa were part of the 2009 field that will play in the qualifying round. Joining those four nations will be Brazil, Colombia, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, New Zealand, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Spain and Thailand.

The 12 new teams for the qualifying round were added based on certain criteria that included strength of native player base, number of professional players and international rankings.

Venues and pool compositions will be determined at a later date.


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