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US opens vs. Mexico in World Baseball Classic

US opens vs. Mexico in World Baseball Classic

Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera is going to play for Venezuela in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Cabrera was among the first 32 players - 12 major leaguers - to commit to playing in the tournament that begins March 2 with games hosted by two-time defending champion Japan and Taiwan.

The Mets' David Wright and Minnesota's Joe Mauer will play for the United States. The team managed by Joe Torre has been placed in Pool D for the first round with Italy, Mexico (The Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez), and Canada (Toronto's Brett Lawrie and Minnesota's Justin Morneau). The U.S. plays its first game March 8 against Mexico at Chase Field in Phoenix.

Torre is ready for some tough competition in the opening round of the tournament.

``It's just sort of like managing the Yankees for me because everybody for the USA always want to put on their Sunday best to make sure that they see a team that they're going to be proud of,'' Torre said Monday at the winter meetings in Nashville, Tenn. ``So that's one thing I guess I'm sort of used to, is that when they see that USA across our chest, they're going to - it's going to get them to another level, and we have to be ready for that.''

The schedule was announced Monday by World Baseball Classic Inc. The top two teams in each of the four pools advance to the second round.

Pool A, being played in Fukouka, Japan, has newcomer Brazil (Cleveland's Yan Gomes), Cuba and China as well as Japan.

Pool B in Taichung, Taiwan, also has Australia (Oakland's Travis Blackley), Korea, Netherlands (free agent Andruw Jones, Washington's Roger Bernadina). Free agent Chien-Ming Wang will pitch for Taiwan.

Puerto Rico (St. Louis' Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina) hosts Pool C in San Juan. The Dominican Republic (The Yankees' Robinson Cano and Toronto's Jose Reyes), Venezuela (Cabrera and San Francisco's Pablo Sandoval) and Spain are also in Pool C.

Round two, a modified double-elimination format, will be held in Tokyo and Miami and the semifinals and finals are in San Francisco from March 17-19.

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Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Soto, Harper homer in Nats' win over Padres

WASHINGTON -- Juan Soto, the youngest player in the majors at 19, hit a three-run homer in his first career start as the Washington Nationals defeated the San Diego Padres 10-2 on Monday.

Mark Reynolds had two solo home runs for the Nationals, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Bryce Harper had a homer and an RBI double.

Soto's drive highlighted a five-run second inning for Washington. The promising outfielder, who played for three minor league teams this season, hit the first pitch from Robbie Erlin (1-3) over the Nationals bullpen in left-center field. Soto also singled.

Soto's homer traveled an estimated 442 feet at Nationals Park. He earned a standing ovation from the crowd and the teenager responded by taking a curtain call. Per Baseball-Reference.com, Soto became the first teenager to hit a home run in a major league game since Harper on Sept. 30, 2012.

Called up to Washington on Sunday, Soto became the first 19-year-old to make his major league debut since Dodgers pitcher Julio Urias in 2016. He entered that game in the eighth inning as a pinch-hitter and struck out.

Washington's starting left fielder began the season at Class A Hagerstown. He hit a combined .362 with 14 homers and 52 RBIs in his three minor league stops.

Gio Gonzalez (5-2) allowed two runs and two hits in seven innings.

San Diego's Franmil Reyes, playing in his seventh career game, also hit his first career home run.

Trea Turner hit a pair of RBI doubles for Washington. Reynolds had three hits.

Erlin surrendered six runs and seven hits over four innings in his third start of the season. San Diego had won three in a row.

Reyes connected for a two-run homer in the fourth inning, but the Padres' lineup generated little else against Gonzalez, who allowed one run over six innings in a no-decision at San Diego on May 9.

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.

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Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

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@MLB

Juan Soto crushes a homer in the first at-bat of his first-ever start

Juan Soto, the highly-regarded 19-year-old Nationals' prospect, got his first major league start of his career tonight. 

How did it go, you ask? Surely it would take Soto - who was in Single-A less than two weeks ago - some time to adjust? 

What were you doing at 19??

2018 MLB POWER RANKINGS AND OTHER NATS NEWS:

- Rankings Update: Where does your team fall?
- Cause For Concern?: How worried should Nats fans be?
- Very Persuasive: How Rizzo convinced Reynolds to come to D.C.