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Brewers prepare for Classic exodus

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PHOENIX -- With players beginning to depart Sunday for the World Baseball Classic, the clubhouse at Maryvale Baseball Park is about to become a whole lot more spacious.

At the moment, the Brewers have a Major League-leading 13 participants in the Classic, including 10 players from big league camp. Many were scheduled to depart on Sunday to join their nations' training camps, either elsewhere in greater Phoenix or in Florida.

"It will be nice to get away and break up what can be the monotony of Spring Training, the day-in and day-out routine," said Canadian closer John Axford. "But at the same time, it's the first time in 10 years I've been able to put on the uniform of Team Canada, so I'm really, really, really looking forward to representing my country on this world stage. I think it will be good, too, to gear up a little bit and get some of the anxiety of a 'real' game."

Axford, fellow reliever Jim Henderson and infielder Taylor Green will report to Goodyear, Ariz., for a quick Team Canada training camp -- they play an exhibition against the Brewers on Tuesday, and Axford and Henderson are both scheduled to pitch.

Left fielder Ryan Braun and catcher Jonathan Lucroy will join Team USA for a few days of training in Scottsdale, Ariz. Starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada will train with Team Mexico in Glendale, Ariz., though Gallardo will return to Brewers camp on Tuesday to test a minor groin injury. Infielder Jeff Bianchi and Team Italy will also train in Glendale.

Two of the Brewers' big league participants will travel. Catcher Martin Maldonado and right-hander Hiram Burgos are to travel Sunday morning to Ft. Myers, Fla., to join Team Puerto Rico, which will play exhibition games before traveling again to San Juan, Puerto Rico for Pool C.

"It's going to be fun and intense for the same time," said Lucroy, who will catch Estrada's start against the Cubs on Sunday before attending a Team USA meeting that night. "I'm not going there to collect a paycheck. I'm going there to win a championship."

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