"Obviously, I have not had an opportunity to represent our team in the Olympics, and this is the closest I'll ever get," said Jeter, who batted .455 in the 2006 Classic. "But there is a lot of pride here. Now you hear all of the players talk in the last three years, and everybody is asking about playing in the World Baseball Classic."
Most prominent among them is three-time American League Most Valuable Player Alex Rodriguez, who played for the U.S. in 2006, but will switch teams for the second World Baseball Classic. Wearing the uniform of the country where he spent several years of his childhood after being born in New York City, A-Rod has company on the Dominican Republic roster.
Good friends Robinson Cano and Melky Cabrera have enlisted to participate for the Dominican Republic, as have pitchers Damaso Marte, Edwar Ramirez and Jose Veras.
Jorge Posada, who had expressed interest in playing for Team Puerto Rico, was not listed on the club's provisional roster as he recovers from right shoulder surgery.
But Bernie Williams -- who played winter ball in hopes of reviving his career and has not appeared in a Major League game since 2006 -- is on the initial list of 45 players for Puerto Rico.
Williams has occupied his time recently by advancing his musical career, but the Classic may present one final opportunity for the outfielder to represent his home country. Williams injured his right quadriceps after seven at-bats in winter ball and said recently that it will be a challenge for him to make Puerto Rico's 28-man roster.
"To be really honest, if I play [for Puerto Rico] and I start getting those feelings back again, start getting the urge and feel good physically, it can open a whole world of possibilities for me," Williams told the New York Daily News. "But right now, I'm just speculating on what could happen. It's not going to be until I play in that competition whether I'm going to be able to make those kind of decisions."
For Mexico, Yankees rotation candidate Alfredo Aceves has been tabbed, along with Minor League first baseman Jorge Vazquez. The China roster features two Minor Leaguers who were signed to contracts by the Yankees in June 2007: left-hander Kai Liu and catcher Zhenwang Zhang.
Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli -- who appeared in three games with New York last September -- is listed on Italy's roster. For the second consecutive Classic, Mariano Rivera will not play for Panama, but the country may have a Yankees representative in first baseman Jahdiel Santamaria.
The Yankees will play two Spring Training exhibition games against Classic clubs at George M. Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Fla. With Jeter dressing in the unfamiliar third-base clubhouse, Team USA visits on March 3, and Team Canada will play the Yankees on March 5.
"I think it's only going to help, any time you can get going a little bit earlier," Jeter said. "But I think players nowadays, there really is not much of an offseason. You basically show up in Spring Training in shape anyway. I think it's a great thing, and you can get going and organized a little bit earlier."
The final rosters of 28 players -- including a mandatory 13 pitchers -- must be set by Feb. 24. Tickets can be purchased in strips and fans can buy them online through mlb.com.
The first round opens March 5 in Tokyo, with defending 2006 champion Japan facing China. Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan, Puerto Rico, host the other three first-round brackets, as follows:
Tokyo (March 5-9): Japan, China, Chinese Taipei, Korea
Toronto (March 7-11): USA, Canada, Venezuela, Italy
San Juan, PR (March 7-11): Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama
Mexico City (March 8-12): Mexico, Cuba, South Africa, Australia
It's a double-elimination format this time in the first two rounds. The winners from Toronto will meet the winners from Puerto Rico in the second round at Miami's Dolphin Stadium, while the winners from Tokyo will meet with the winners from Mexico City in San Diego's PETCO Park.
The semifinals and finals are on March 21 and 23 at Dodger Stadium.