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12/16/08 10:46 PM EST

Lackey set to pitch for U.S. in Classic

Angels righty excited about representing country in '09 event

ANAHEIM -- Angels right-hander John Lackey said Tuesday that he plans on pitching for the United States in the World Baseball Classic in March.

Lackey has already started getting in baseball shape in preparation to play in the tournament, which will be played March 5-23, with the first round taking place in four countries, and the tournament ending with the semifinals and finals in Dodger Stadium.

"The USA committee called and it sounded like a great opportunity, so I was pumped to be a part of it," Lackey said Tuesday at the Angels' annual Children's Holiday Party.

Lackey didn't participate in the first Classic, which was held in 2006 and saw the United States team go 3-3 while Japan won the 16-team tournament.

Lackey, who went 12-5 with a 3.75 ERA in 24 games with the Angels this past season, said he is excited about the chance to represent his country in the Classic.

"I'm real pumped about it," Lackey said. "It's going to be real good."

The United States team will be managed by Davey Johnson, who led the U.S. Olympic team to a bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter introduced Johnson as manager at a press conference in Las Vegas during the Winter Meetings.

Johnson is expected to have a 28-man roster, with players reporting on March 2 in Clearwater, Fla., the spring home of the Phillies. The United States plays its first game on March 7 against Canada at Toronto's Rogers Centre.

As a result, Spring Training starts early this season, as mandatory camps for all MLB-affiliated players begin Feb. 14 for pitchers and catchers, and Feb. 17 for position players.

Rhett Bollinger is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.