“The players on this roster were chosen on the basis of their performances this past season,” “I picked players who could play typical Japanese baseball,” Oh said. “We think we can win by playing Japanese style baseball. There will be teams there who want to beat us.”
Among 29 big names in the roster, outfielder Ichiro Suzuki of Seattle Mariners, right-handed relief pitcher Akinori Otsuka of the San Diego Padres, and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi of the Chicago White Sox are from Major League Baseball, other players are from Nippon Professional Baseball.
“It will be a very tough competition,” said Oh. “The level of play will be very high and there will be teams that want to beat us, so we knew we had to go with a strong team.” “Baseball is a great sport and we want to do everything we can to promote the game,” said Oh. “The World Baseball Classic is an important way to introduce baseball to the world.”
The left spot of 30-man roster is waiting for New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, who has not decided to join the team yet.
“I’ve met with (Matsui) and told him we really want him on the team,” Oh said at news conference. “I’m almost 100 percent sure he will accept our offer. That is why we left the one roster spot open.” “If (Matsui) says no we’ll put another player on the (30-man) roster,” added Oh. “I don’t know when he will give us his final answer, but personally I’m willing to wait as long as it takes.”
For Iguchi, his Manager Ozzie Guillen, a proud and strong supporter of his own country Venezuela, understand and doesn’t begrudge.
“I have to respect Iguchi because his country is more important than the White Sox,” Guillen said. “It’s not because he don’t care, but he’s going to go back and be there for the rest of his life with his kids and family. I will respect any decision Iguchi makes, and hopefully when he’s here, he’s ready to play.”
For Ichiro, has already said yes to WBC several days ago. Manager Mike Hargrove said “I think that Ichiro is such a unique hitter, a hitter with unique talent.” “He has the ability to be a lot of things in an offensive lineup.”
“Mr. Oh extended a formal invitation and Ichiro accepted,” Ichiro’s agent, Tony Attanasio said. “For the longest time, media people had been asking if he was going to play for Japan. But it was not that simple; Ichiro had to receive a formal invitation.” “Now there has been an invitation, and Ichiro was delighted to accept. He really wants to play for his country.”
Based on Major League Baseball Japan Managing Director Jim Small, all 30 Major League Team, include Yankees, were not opposed for their players taking part in the WBC, and Yankee players like Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriquez had already agreed to play.
In the World Baseball Classic, a 60-man preliminary roster must be submitted by Jan. 17, and all players will begin to be drug tested under the Olympic-type penalties — two years of banishment from international play for a first offense. Final rosters must include a minimum of 13 pitchers and three catchers. The exact date to finalize rosters has yet to be determined, but the deadline will likely be 24 hours to five days before the WBC start.
Japan will group with China, Taiwan and Korea in the inaugural tournament event, which begins on March 3 at Tokyo Dome. The top two teams of the first round will advance to Los Angeles and compete with top two team of Pool B, which include U.S., Canada, Mexico and South Africa, at Angel Stadium on March 13-15. The final four teams will play semifinals and finals at the PETCO Park on March 18-20.
Below is the 29-man roster of Japan Baseball Team:
Sadaharu OH (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)
Kazuhiro Takeda (Pitching coach)
Hatsuhiko Tsuji (Infield coach)
Yasunori Ohshima (Hitting coach)
Naoyuki Shimizu (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Shunsuke Watanabe (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Hiroyuki Kobayashi (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Tsuyoshi Wada (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)
Toshiya Sugiuchi (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)
Daisuke Matsuzaka (Seibu Lions)
Koji Uehara (Yomiuri Giants)
Hiroki Kuroda (Hiroshima Toyo Carp)
Soichi Fujita (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Yasuhiko Yabuta (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Kyuji Fujikawa (Hanshin Tigers)
Hirotoshi Ishii (Yakult Swallows)
Tadahito Otsuka (San Diego Padres)
Tomoya Satozaki (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Motonobu Tanishige (Chunichi Dragons)
Shinnosuke Abe (Yomiuri Giants)
Tsuyoshi Nishioka (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Toshiaki Imae (Chiba Lotte Marines)
Matsunaka, Nobuhiko (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)
Munenori Kawasaki (Fukuoka Softbank Hawks)
Michihiro Ogasawara (Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters)
Akinori Iwamura (Yakult Swallows)
Takahiro Arai (Hiroshima Carp)
Tadahito Iguchi (Chicago White Sox)
Kazuhiro Wada (Seibu Lions)
Tatsuhiko Kinjo (Yokohama Baystars)
Hitoshi Tamura (Yokohama Baystars)
Norichika Aoki (Yakult Swallows)
Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners)
Team Japan announces WBC squad
Ichiro, Iguchi make World Classic roster
Iguchi chosen for Japanese WBC team
Ichiro looking forward to WBC
Matsui still missing
Japan goes with top players for WBC, still waiting on Matsui
Japan’s WBC team will have pop
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