BALTIMORE -- Adam Jones said his decision to accept an invitation to play in the World Baseball Classic was a no-brainer, and on Thursday morning, he learned who will suit up with him for Team USA in March.
Jones will patrol center field, with the Brewers' Ryan Braun in left field and the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton in right. New Red Sox right fielder Shane Victorino will serve as the team's fourth outfielder.
"I think it's going to be an experience of a lifetime," Jones said. "This is an All-Star contest. It's the Olympics, basically. Team USA is trying to get the best players they can.
"I know the Japanese take tremendous pride in whooping everybody's butt the first two [competitions], so, USA, let's go."
Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez said Thursday morning he would decline his invitation to pitch for Team Mexico.
"Obviously this is more important than me going down there," said Gonzalez. "This is my first big league Spring Training. I'll be focused on doing my stuff here first.
"It was a tough decision, but you always have to think about what's going to happen in the long run. So I think it's more important for me to be with the team."
Orioles relievers Luis Ayala (Mexico) and Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) are also on their country's respective lists. Top infield prospect Jonathan Schoop (Netherlands), catchers Chris Robinson (Canada) and Allan de San Miguel (Australia), right-handed pitchers Rafael Moreno (Brazil) and Jonatan Isenia (Netherlands) and outfielder Tim Smith (Canada) were listed on provisional rosters.
Braun and Victorino, along with Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins and Mets third baseman David Wright, are the only three returnees from the 2009 Team USA. The U.S. has never advanced to the finals, losing in the second round in '06 and in the semifinals to Japan at Dodger Stadium in '09.
All 39 games of the international tournament will be broadcast by MLB Network, with the competition opening March 2, when Brazil faces two-time defending champion Japan in Fukuoka, Japan. The championship game will be played in San Francisco on March 19.
Team USA is in the Arizona bracket with Canada, Mexico and Italy, and the Americans will open play against Mexico at Chase Field on March 8. The other three first-round brackets are in Japan, Taiwan and Puerto Rico.
Given the nature of the games and the fact that Classic participants are in game mode already in early March, there is always the question about health and possible fatigue over a 162-game regular season. Jones said he isn't worried.
"I want them not to be worried about me. That's why I want to prepare myself the best, that's why I want to come in shape," Jones said. "The first couple days [this spring] is going to be work, work, work, because I'm going to have to be able to get myself ready to play center field. These [Classic] games mean a lot. Spring Training doesn't mean much, these games mean a lot. You got the whole country behind you."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less