LAS VEGAS - This time, there seem to be more answers than questions.

Nobody was quite sure what to expect when the first World Baseball Classic was launched 3 years ago. But the event turned out to be a bigger success than most expected.

And with the Phillies coming in as the defending world champions, they could have a large representation.

"I would suspect Ryan Howard would be picked," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "Jimmy Rollins. I would think the Canadian team would take Matt Stairs. Some of our Australian players. Carlos Ruiz could play for Panama and J.C. Romero for Puerto Rico.

"We could have quite a few and we'll just have to work around it. It's a tremendous honor and something we support. It's a huge way that Major League Baseball can promote the game worldwide."

It's also possible that Cole Hamels and Brad Lidge could be asked to play.

The Phillies will host the Team USA workouts at the Carpenter Complex in Clearwater, Fla., and play the United States team in an exhibition at Bright House Field on March 4 and 5.

In 2006, the United States was eliminated in the second round, with Japan eventually defeating Cuba in the finals at San Diego's Petco Park.

Team USA manager Davey Johnson, who spent part of his playing career with the Phillies, was a coach 3 years ago and vowed a better result.

"I don't think we were ready," he said. "I think the biggest thing is that a lot of the pitchers hadn't thrown enough and were not prepared. We have some payback to do."

The symbolic first player to be named to the team is Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter.

"I think when the World Baseball Classic first started there was a lot of skepticism, especially on behalf of the players," Jeter said. "No one knew it was going to work and no one knew if they wanted to play and if it would take away from the season and spring training.

"Now, you hear all the players asking about playing in the World Baseball Classic."

Team USA will be part of Pool C along with Canada, Italy and Venezuela and will play its first-round games in Toronto's Rogers Centre. Games will also be played in Tokyo, Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico.

If the United States advances, it will play its second round series at Dolphin Stadium in Miami while the other semifinals venue will be Petco Park. The final round will be played at Dodger Stadium, March 21-23. *