GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Team Canada got a huge power boost on Monday.
Joey Votto held a session with the media to announce that he will play for Team Canada in the WBC.
Votto plans on joining the Canadian squad, which is currently working out at Goodyear Ballpark, on Thursday for the start of the first round of games.
"I look forward to playing for the team," Votto said.
"I look forward to being a part of the tournament. I had a great time the last time. I'm very grateful I'm on the team. It's not very often you get to represent your country in a big tournament like this. I never got to play in the Olympics, this is the next best thing."
Canada added Votto to its roster at the deadline last month, but he wanted to play in Cactus League games to test his surgically repaired left knee before making a final decision.
Votto said he received support to play from the Reds, including CEO Bob Castellini. He expects to play at first base and designated hitter, splitting time with Twins first baseman Justin Morneau.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Team USA gathered on Monday at Salt River Fields for its first practice in anticipation of the World Baseball Classic opener on Friday.
And manager Joe Torre said his starting pitching is aligned for the three Pool D games at Chase Field, with Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey tabbed to face rival Mexico on Friday at Chase Field (9 p.m. ET, MLB Network and ESPN Deportes).
It's the third edition of the Classic, and the U.S. is trying to win it for the first time.
Japan was the victor in 2006 and '09.
By Classic rules, starters can only throw 65 pitches in the first round, 80 in the second round and 95 in the semifinals (March 17-18) or final (March 19) at AT&T Park in San Francisco.
Cuba and Japan have already advanced out of Pool A.
Pool B is still shaking itself out at the time of this writing.
Korea will play Chinese Taipei in the final game of Pool B with a shot to advance to the second round on Tuesday.
We've yet to see some of the most talented teams on paper play in this tournament.
Pool C and Pool B will commence Thursday. Japan may be the two-time winner of this tournament, but the real heavy hitters are on the other side of the bracket.
Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Spain
Breakdown: Have you seen the rosters for Venezuela and the Dominican Republic?
Venezuela boasts Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval.
The Dominican Republic features Robinson Cano, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion.
Poor Spain doesn't stand a chance, while Puerto Rico (Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Angel Pagan, Alex Rios and home-field advantage in the group stage) is a possible but unlikely sleeper.
United States, Mexico, Italy, Canada
The United States has to be the group favorite, with a roster that includes Ryan Braun, David Wright, Giancarlo Stanton, Adam Jones, Joe Mauer, Brandon Phillips, Jimmy Rollins, Mark Teixeira, R.A. Dickey and Gio Gonzalez.
The real question is, do you prefer Mexico or Canada as the second team to advance out of the group?
Each team has major stars. Mexico has Adrian Gonzalez, Yovani Gallardo and Sergio Romo.
Canada includes Joey Votto, Justin Morneau, Brett Lawrie and John Axford.