With plenty of talent to surround stars Joey Votto and Justin Morneau, Michael Saunders thinks this is the year for Team Canada to make...

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PHOENIX — With plenty of talent to surround stars Joey Votto and Justin Morneau, Michael Saunders thinks this is the year for Team Canada to make noise in the World Baseball Classic.

Saunders homered and team captain Morneau had a run-scoring walk as Canada began preparations for the WBC with a 7-4 exhibition win over the Milwaukee Brewers Tuesday.

Canada is looking to advance beyond the first round for the first time after early exits in 2006 and 2009.

“One through nine in the lineup, I think we can compete with any of the teams,” said Saunders, a Mariners outfielder. “We’ve shown in the past we’ve played everyone tough, we took down the U.S. in 2006 and played them tough in 2009. We have all the confidence and we’re excited for another chance.”

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Saunders homered off Milwaukee’s Wily Peralta. Canada had nine hits and drew 10 walks.

“(Canada) is going to have a good team,” said Brewers pitcher Chris Narveson. “Between Morneau and Votto — that’s two of the top left-handed hitters in baseball.”

Pujols 0 for 3 in spring debut

TEMPE, Ariz. — Depending on one’s point of view, Albert Pujols started his exhibition season 10 days late or 10 days early.

Recovering from offseason surgery on his right knee, the three-time MVP went 0 for 3 in his first exhibition game of 2013 as the Los Angeles Angels beat Cincinnati 6-4.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia had not expected Pujols to play for another week-and-a-half.

“I need to get my at-bats,” Pujols said. “It doesn’t matter how much you hit in the cage. You need to see live pitching.”

Pujols had a broken-bat grounder to third against Mike Leake, struck out swinging against Aroldis Chapman and grounded to shortstop against Wilkin De La Rosa.

“He wanted to see some velocity and he got to see some,” Scioscia said. “Some of those guys had some high octane.”

The Angels used their projected starting outfield for the first time: Mike Trout in left field, Peter Bourjos in center and Josh Hamilton in right. They combined to go 4 for 8.


Miguel Cabrera homered and had four RBI for Team Venezuela a few hours after the death of President Hugo Chávez, in a 6-5 loss to the Marlins.

• Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira strained his right forearm while playing for the U.S. in a 4-4 exhibition tie with the White Sox and pulled out of the WBC.

• New closer Rafael Soriano, who signed a two-year, $28 million contract with the Nationals in the offseason, gave up a hit in a scoreless inning against the Astros in his spring debut.

• Mets reliever Pedro Feliciano wore a heart monitor while pitching in a “B” game against Miami and reported no discomfort during his first spring outing. Feliciano was diagnosed last week with a rare genetic condition.

• Braves 2B Dan Uggla escaped a scary incident without serious injury when he was hit in the back of the neck by a pitch from a minor leaguer.

Ichiro doubled and grounded out twice for the Yankees in his first game since his auto accident last Saturday. He was not injured in a crash that totaled his SUV.

• Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw made no excuses for his third straight subpar outing during a loss to the Padres. Manager Don Mattingly isn’t worried. “He got knocked around a bit last spring, too,” Mattingly said.

• Major League Baseball intends to expand the use of instant replay in 2014 and will study which calls to add, said Joe Torre, MLB executive vice president. Commissioner Bud Selig has said he wants to add reviews for trapped balls and fair-or-foul calls.

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