Americans try to reach WBC title game at last

By JANIE McCAULEY | February 27, 2013 | 3:30 PM EST

FILE - In this Oct. 3, 2010, file photo, then-Los Angeles Dodgers manager Joe Torre walks up the steps after a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Los Angeles. Torre is returning to the top step of the dugout to manage the Americans at the World Baseball Clasic. Team USA have yet to even reach the championship game of this hugely popular international event played every three years. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — The World Baseball Classic begins late Friday night U.S. time and once again Japan is the team to beat.

The Japanese won the international tournament the first two times it was played, in 2006 and 2009, and has a reputation for preparing quite seriously for the event, while some nations will build their teams from players on break from spring training.

The group-play round will be held in four locations around the globe — Japan, Taiwan, Puerto Rico and Arizona. The semifinals and final will be in San Francisco.