Archive for October, 2008

Korea’s Choo eye on WBC

One of the biggest names of Korea Baseball, Cleveland Indians outfielder Shin-soo Choo has returned to Korea and expressed his desire to play for Korea in the World Baseball Classic.

“I’m really eager to play in the WBC for Korea,” Choo said. “I hope that my team will give me a chance to play.”

However, there are two questions. First, the Indians may not allow Choo to compete in the WBC because it won’t give him a chance to get a military exemption.

In 2006, the South Korean government gave military exemptions to the players if the team finished in the top four at the WBC. Korea reached the semifinals; let the players to earn military exemptions. However, this time government will not give military exemptions for the WBC 2009, even if the team wins the championship.

Choo, 26-year-old is required to serve in the military for two years before he turns 30, need the exemption in order to let his baseball career not interrupt, but if there is no chance to exemption, Indians probably said no.

The other reason is the possibility to injury.

Due to WBC take place from March 5 to 23, before the MAJOR League regular season, and playing in the WBC would cause Choo to start his regular conditioning and preparation early and might hurt him.

Pitcher Chan-ho Park of the Los Angeles Dodgers is a cased. He had said playing at the 2006 WBC hurt his performances during the MLB season. Although he threw 10 scoreless innings as a closer for Korea at the WBC and earned three saves, but he went 7-7 as a starter for the San Diego Padres during the 2006 MLB season with a 4.81 ERA.

Choo finished the 2007 with a .309 batting average, 16 homers, 66 RBIs, .397 on-base percentages and .549 slugging percentages in 94 games.

Hara to manage Japan Team

Finally, Team Japan has named manager.

After long time research, Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara formally agree to be the manager of the Japan national team for World Baseball Classic next March.

“I’ll do my best to help Japan form a strong squad to defend the title,” “I will do my level best and become a power in forming a strong team” said Hara, who led the Giants to overcome a 13-game deficit to the Central League pennant for the second straight year and their first Japan Series in six years. “I didn’t expect at all [to be asked for the managerial job]. But leading the Japan squad is an honor for me,” Hara said.

According to Yomiuri Shimbun, Nippon Professional Baseball commissioner Ryozo Kato visited The Yomiuri Shimbun’s head office Tuesday morning and asked Giants owner Takuo Takihana to allow Hara to skipper Japan as it looks for its second straight WBC title. Then Kato went to the Yomiuri Giants training complex in Kawasaki to meet Hara.

Kato, former Japanese ambassador to the United States, said he appreciates that Hara accepted the job. “I really appreciate Mr. Hara’s understanding in accepting this job even while he prepares for the Japan Series,” Kato said. “I told him he will have our full cooperation–along with special adviser Sadaharu Oh–in the process of selecting coaches and players.”

“Now I’m focusing on our preparations for the Japan Series. After doing my best for the Giants, then I’ll give my all for Japan,” Hara said, ahead of Game 1 on Saturday against the Saitama Seibu Lions at Tokyo Dome.

“We’ll have players, fans and coaches all banding together to take on the world,” said Hara at a press conference following the decision. “That’s the power of Japan.”

Japan’s Olympic coach Senichi Hoshino has refused to stay on to lead the defending champions at next year’s World Baseball Classic (WBC). The 61-year-old’s decision not to answer his country’s call leaves Japanese baseball officials with even fewer options ahead of the March tournament.

“Even if I am asked I will turn it down,” Hoshino told Japanese media. “I have informed (Japan’s baseball) commissioner of my decision.”

Hoshino suffered intense criticism after Japan failed to secure a medal at this year’s Beijing Olympics.
“I’ve already been engulfed in flames once — why should I have to drag someone’s chestnuts out of the fire again?” he said on his personal website. “I don’t want to put my family through that again.”

After Hoshino reject, Katsuya Nomura, manager of the Rakuten Eagles, thinks Seattle outfielder Ichiro Suzuki could be just the man to lead Japan’s defense of the title at the 2009 WBC.

“Maybe we should just let Ichiro be a playing manager,” Nomura was quoted to say on the Nikkansports Web site. But the idea is not come true.

“In the end, We got back to the drawing board after Mr. Hoshino decided to back off and we decided an active manager would be best, and Hara’s name came up,” said Sadaharu Oh, a special adviser to the committee and former manager of the Softbank Hawks.

Kato said Hara was chosen by an NPB advisory committee because of his youth, good health and managerial experience. “Earlier we planned to pick a manager who is not a club team manager, but it eventually wasn’t a practical idea,” Kato said. “And we decided that Mr. Hara fits mostly to the position considering his experience and achievements.”

Apart from Kato and Oh, who led Japan to victory in the inaugural 2006 WBC competition, other members of the WBC organizing committee include Senichi Hoshino, Rakuten Eagles manager Katsuya Nomura; Yakult Swallows manager Shigeru Takada, and baseball commentator Kenjiro Nomura.

Hara is scheduled to start selecting coaches and players after the Japan Series. Training camp for the WBC will begin on Feb. 15.

Ichiro to help Japan again in WBC 2009

Remember the inaugural World Baseball Classic? Ichiro Suzuki is the main parts that Japan won the Championship in 2006, and next March, he will represent Japan to defend their title.

According to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Ichiro told Kyodo News: “I will try to win the WBC in earnest again”.

The good news is due to Major League Baseball is handling the World Baseball Classic differently, starting spring training earlier and having Cactus League games stretch into the first week of April instead of ending March 23.

Unlike three years ago, Ichiro started the year in Japan and not in Peoria, Ariz., with the Mariners until the last two weeks of March. If Japan were to go to the finals again, Ichiro could once again be limited to just a couple of weeks of spring training.

Of course, now the Japan’s best player would take the field for his team, his participation is sure to shore up the WBC, but there are other controversial issue.

One is due to Major League Baseball, which doesn’t release its players (or at least alter the league’s schedule to allow them to play) for international competitions like the Olympics. With the Baseball season went through October, and pitchers and catchers reporting in early February, there’s a fairly narrow time for the WBC to hold its tournament

The other is even the WBC played during spring training, controversy among MLB players and teams has been the fatigue this adds to players, particularly pitchers, which could let it become preseason competition rather than a true competition.

For the eight-time Major League All-Star batted .364, scored seven runs in eight games and was a vocal leader, Ichiro ranked the Classic as a highlight of all of his career accomplishments.

“Apart from the Olympics, I really wanted this WBC tournament to be the event that decides the true world champions, so that’s why I participated in this event,” he said. “And at the end, I was able to be on the championship team, and this is probably the biggest moment of my baseball career.”

But the Seattle outfielder is not only playing, he is also urging Japanese baseball officials to get on with the job of picking a manager so the country can defend its title at the World Baseball Classic.

“(Japanese officials) say they want to build the strongest team, but at the same time say its difficult to pick an active manager,” Suzuki was quoted as saying in Sunday’s Nikkansports newspaper. “I wonder if they really want to build the best team.”

Right now Japan has had trouble finding a manager for the 2009 WBC, which starts in Tokyo on March 5. Two retired managers appear to be out of the picture.

Senichi Hoshino, who was the manager of the Japan team that failed to win a medal at the Beijing Olympics, has been mentioned as a candidate but has said he doesn’t want the job.

Sadaharu Oh, who guided Japan to the title at the inaugural WBC in 2006, stepped down as manager of the Softbank Hawks at the end of the 2008 season because of poor health.

Other candidates include active managers Katsuya Nomura of the Rakuten Eagles and Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara.

Suzuki also said it’s important that Japan restores its baseball pride after such a disappointing result in Beijing. Japan finished fourth at Beijing despite having a team made up entirely of players from Nippon Professional Baseball leagues.

“We have to start out on the right foot if we want to get revenge for Beijing at the WBC,” said Suzuki.

Several Mariners to play in WBC

No matter which position they are, Seattle Mariners has lots of players who want to join the World Baseball Classic next March.

Include Starter Felix Hernandez, who was asked not to participate for Venezuela in 2006, is likely to want to pitch for his country. So does third baseman Adrian Beltre is likely to be on the roster for the Dominican Republic, as he was three years ago. Second baseman Jose Lopez could also play for Team Venezuela.

As for Catcher Kenji Johjima, who elected to work out with the Mariners in 2006, his first spring, rather than play for Japan, is likely to want to play for his country this time around.

The other possibility include Lefty Ryan Rowland-Smith would be a candidate for Team Australia. And outfielder Wladimir Balentien could be included on the roster of The Netherlands because his home of Curacao is part of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean.

Due to Team rosters won’t be settled on in a couple of months, so other players could also be involved, it could be more interested to see player face their teammates during WBC.


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