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Classic-bound Yanks to play early before departure

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TAMPA, Fla. -- The Yankees could be sending a total of seven players from their organization to the World Baseball Classic, most notably Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira, and manager Joe Girardi said Thursday he'll try to get them as many at-bats as possible before they depart to play for their respective countries.

Girardi said Cano (Dominican Republic) and Teixeira (United States) will travel with the club to Lake Buena Vista, Fla., on Saturday to play the Braves, adding that Cano will likely play six of the Yankees' first eight games while Teixeira figures to play five of those.

Girardi singled out a few other players scheduled to take part in the Classic who will receive more playing time the first week or so of Grapefruit League play: outfielder Melky Mesa (Dominican Republic), infielder Gil Velazquez (Mexico) and left-hander Juan Cedeno (Dominican Republic).

Minor League right-hander Pat Venditte, who spent last year with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will play for Team Italy, and Minor League infielder Walter Ibarra is expected to play for Mexico.

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