Archive for the ‘Qualifiers’ Category

Philippines attempts to qualify for World Baseball Classic

For Philippine Amateur Baseball Association and Philippine Baseball National Team, play World Baseball Classic is their dream.

Philippine did not participate in 2009 and 2013; however, due to the rule change at the 3rd World Baseball Classic, they have the opportunity to attend the 2013 World Baseball Classic, if they are the winner of the Qualifier Pool 4. They are preparing to fight with New Zealand, Thailand and Chinese Taipei on November 15 to 18 at the Xinzhuang Stadium in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

They know the San Francisco Giants ace pitcher Tim Lincecum is qualified to represent the Philippines since his mother Rebecca Asis, has a Filipino blood. His great-grandparents Alberta and Genaro Asis were from Cebu and Siquijor provinces. But although San Francisco Giants has approved Tim to play, Lincecum declined the invitation due to personal reason, so does New York Yankees relief pitcher Clay Rapada.

Tim Lincecum

(Photo via Nathanael Hevelone, CC License)

Even they lost two Major League players, PABA secretary general Thomas Navasero still were confident about their chance:

I think we are going to win. We have the strongest team formed in the history of the Philippines. We have players who can throw curveballs and dropballs. We have skilled players we are bringing in.”

National team manager Marty Eizmendi also has same feeling:

We might just surprise everyone in Taipei, We’re the underdogs but with our Fil-Ams, we’re unpredictable.”

“The MLB is very supportive of our campaign to promote baseball and they’re paying to fly over the Fil-Ams. They’re footing the bill for board, lodging, transportation and even uniforms. If we make an impact in Taipei, it will be a tremendous accomplishment for Philippine baseball.”

“The Fil-Ams aren’t being paid a fee to play. They’re all excited to play for the national team. We’ll be fighting in Taipei to make our country proud and give back to everyone who has supported us from Day One.”

This team will be managed by Jim Ramos, a Filipino-American coach. National head coach Wilfredo Hidalgo Jr., local coaches Roel Empacis, international coaches Billy Thomas will also be part of the six-man coaching staff. Pitching Coach Billy Champion is expected to greatly strengthen the team’s chance of getting through the host Taiwan.

The 28-man baseball team is composed of 16 homegrown players like Jon Jon Robles, Charlie Labrador, Darwin dela Calzada, Vladymir Eguia, Romeo Jasmin, Joseph Orillana, Jonash Ponce, Rommel Roja, Ramil Empacis, Ruben Angeles and Ernesto Binarao, who carried over the team that won the gold medal in the 2011 Southeast Asian Games in Indonesia.

The remainder Philippine member will include11 Filipino Americans and 1 Filipino Japanese. Led by MLB southpaw pitcher Geno Espinelli, who was born in Houston to Filipino parents Leonilo Espineli, a UP engineering graduate from Cavite, and Thelma Macalalag of Lumban, Laguna.

The other Fil-Ams squad are Edwin Jimenez, Jonathan Laygo of the Fresno White Sox, Andres Vasquez of Rutgers University, William Ireton of the East L.A. Dodgers, Trent Garrison of the Los Angeles Angels, Kurt Rathjens, Devon Bryce Ramirez of California State-Dominguez, Fil-Japanese pitcher Ryuya Ogawa of the Chunichi Dragons of the Nippon Professional Baseball, and Leighton Michael Pangilinan of the Chicago White Sox minor league, Chad Nacapoy, and Ryan Pineda.

There are total 13 pitchers for the team, include Darwin de la Calzada, Jon Jon Robles, Ernesto Binarao, Charlie Labrador, Eguia Vladimir, Jasmin Romeo Jr., Joseph Orillana, Carlos Alberto Munoz, Ryuya Ogawa, Geno Espinelli, Max Javate, Alec Rosales and Devon Bryce Ramirez, some of them can throw at the middle 90s (mph) and mix their pitches, will try to keep the game close.

Is it enough to bypass the other three teams? Only time will tell.

Canada welcome World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic is coming to Toronto, and players like the home advantage.

Rogers Centre has been chosen as one of the sites for the first round of next year’s WBC, with Canada, the USA, Venezuela and Italy, whose team will be composed largely of second-generation players of Italian parentage possibly comprising the pool for the event, which will be scheduled for the first 12 days of March.

The Toronto Blue Jays have been working on this for over a year, but there was some question about the city’s status after the Dominican Republic threatened to boycott the event unless Santo Domingo was chosen to be one of the host cities.

The first WBC was a largely artistic and final success, despite skeptics who wondered how Major League teams and players would react to the interruption in their usual spring training regimens.

Among the Canadian Major Leaguers who appeared in the 2006 event were Justin Morneau, Erik Bedard, Matt Stairs and Jeff Francis.

“It’s a good draw for Toronto, because even the weakest team (Italy) might attract a few fans because of the sizable Italian community in the city,” said the source.

During the first WBC, it was estimated that the host teams for events made about $1 million after expenses. That’s in addition to the spin-off benefits to the hotel and restaurant business.

For players, they are excited.

Matt Stairs played for Team Canada at the 1988 Olympics as a 20-year-old. Next year, when he is 41, he plans to represent his country again in the World Baseball Classic. If he does, he will get to perform before a home crowd.

Toronto will serve as one of the host sites for the first round of the WBC, with games played at the Rogers Centre. The United States, Italy and Venezuela will also compete in that pool.

Stairs, the only Canadian on the Toronto Blue Jays roster, said the club has already given him permission to leave spring training next March to play for Team Canada, as he did in the first WBC tournament in 2006.

“Whenever you get 25 Canadians in one locker room, it tends to be quite fun,” Stairs said.

So does Rich Harden of the A’s.

“It’s every kid’s dream growing up to play for your country,” said Harden, a Victoria, B.C., native who hopes to play for Team Canada in 2009. “And I’m very excited to get the opportunity to do that this time around.”

Japan, Mexico, Canada, Puerto Rico to host first round

Yes, the stadium to play first round of 2009 World Baseball Classic is decided.

As in 2006, Tokyo Dome and Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico, will host first-round games. In 2009, those venues will be joined for the first time by Rogers Centre in Toronto and Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City.

Rogers Centre is the home ballpark of the Blue Jays, and Major League Spring Training exhibition games have been played at the 27,940-seat facility in Foro Sol Stadium in Mexico City.

The 16-team field is the same as ’06, though an expansion of the field to 24 countries and territories with qualifying rounds as a preface to reach the main competition is under consideration for 2013.

Next year’s brackets are as follows:

Pool A — China, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea will begin play on March 5 in Tokyo Dome.

Pool B — Australia, Cuba, Mexico and South Africa, from March 8-12 in Mexico City.

Pool C — Canada, Italy, the U.S. and Venezuela, from March 8-12 in Toronto.

Pool D — Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico, from March 7-11 in Puerto Rico.

Venues for the second round, plus the combined semifinals and finals are still to be determined.

The semifinals and finals were sold out at San Diego’s 45,000-seat home of the Padres in 2006. Japan vanquished Cuba, 10-6, to win the tournament and Japanese pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka, who now toils for the Red Sox, was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.

Attendance for the ’06 tournament at its seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold, a major coup considering that the Asian bracket didn’t reach the 80 percent capacity in Tokyo Dome that was originally projected.

Several important figure and host representative has talked about 2009 World Baseball Classic:

Allan H. (Bud) Selig, Major League Baseball Commissioner, said:

“The 2009 World Baseball Classic will further demonstrate the remarkable global growth of our game,” “There has been incredible demand to host the games of the second World Baseball Classic, and we are pleased to have four international destinations as our first-round venues. We are excited about the 2009 World Baseball Classic and look forward to next March.”

Don Fehr, the executive director of the Players’ Association, said:

“The best baseball players in the world are looking forward with great anticipation to playing in the 2009 World Baseball Classic,” “Implementation of double-elimination and crossover games to the World Baseball Classic next year will make the games even more intense and the tournament even more exciting for both players and fans. It will be an unforgettable experience.”

Dr. Harvey Schiller, President, International Baseball Federation (IBAF), said:

“On behalf of the entire IBAF membership, we are excited to once again participate in this important event. The cooperation between IBAF, Major League Baseball, and the Major League Baseball Players Association is at an all time high. We all look forward to this event as a prelude to our return to the Olympic program in 2016 and beyond.”

Takuo Takihana, Chairman, The Yomiuri Shimbun, remarked:

“Since The Yomiuri Shimbun hosted the first US-Japan All-Star Tour in 1931, and invited Babe Ruth to Japan in 1934, we have dedicated our soul to spread this wonderful sport of baseball throughout the world. It is our great honor to be named the host of the Round One games in Tokyo once again, following 2006. With pride, as the largest selling newspaper company in the world, with a daily circulation of 10 million copies per day, we promise you to stage a supreme baseball event.”

Carlos Hermosillo Conade, Minister of Sport of Mexico, said:

“The government of Mexico, under President Felipe Calderón, is committed to working with the businesses of our country to bring international events like the World Baseball Classic to Mexico to demonstrate our hospitality, culture and organizing capabilities. We have worked very closely with ALHÜVA Entretenimiento, represented by the enthusiastic sports promoter Alejandro Hütt, and Mexico City is very excited to be host of Round 1 games at Foro Sol Stadium. For the enormous baseball fan base in our country, it will be especially exciting to be able to see the Mexican National Team filled with MLB stars compete in Mexico for the first time ever.”

Paul Godfrey, President and CEO, Toronto Blue Jays and Rogers Centre, added:

“This is a world class event for Rogers Centre and the City of Toronto. What better place to hold the World Baseball Classic than in a city that has such a strong international reach? The raised global profile of the tournament, along with the great performance of teams from the United States, Venezuela, Italy and our own Team Canada, will make these games most exciting as fans will see their favorite players demonstrate an unprecedented level of passion and dedication to their national teams.”

Antonio Muñoz, MB Sports Chairman of the Board, said:

“Over the years, we have brought to Puerto Rico the best baseball there is, including the historic games of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. We are very proud to once again be selected to host the world’s premier international baseball tournament and expect Hiram Bithorn Stadium to be a showcase for thrilling match-ups between the Dominican Republic, the Netherlands, Panama and our home team representing Puerto Rico.”

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament, sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation, and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 486 players – 235 of them from MLB organizations – representing 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event. More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. Broadcast by 48 media outlets in 10 languages to 205 countries and territories around the world, the inaugural tournament had 50 official sponsors and 21 official licensees. Media members representing 25 different nations attended the 39 games in seven host venues across three countries/territories. The next tournament will be held in March 2009 and will again feature 16 of the greatest baseball-playing nations in the world. The tournament will be held every four years thereafter, with plans in place to expand the participant field beginning in 2013.

2009 World Baseball Classic to feature same 16 teams

After further discussion, the 16-team field is set for the second World Baseball Classic, which is scheduled for March of next year. Though it is exactly the same as the inaugural edition in 2006, it may be the last time the governing bodies of the tournament restrict the competition to that few teams.

Under consideration for 2013 is an expansion of the field to 24 countries and territories with qualifying rounds as a preface to reach the main competition.

“As the level of baseball continues to rise worldwide, it is essential that the World Baseball Classic expand its field to give the growing number of formidable teams the opportunity to participate,” said Paul Archey, Major League Baseball’s senior vice president of international business operations. “In accordance with the tournament’s goal of growing and enhancing interest in the game, the Steering Committee has strongly endorsed the expansion of the competition for the 2013 event.”

But that’s down the road. Next year’s field will again feature defending title winner Japan, runner-up Cuba, the U.S., Dominican Republic, Korea, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Venezuela — all teams that qualified for the second round last time and thus received automatic berths for ’09. It was announced on Feb. 20th that Australia, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Italy, Netherlands, Panama, and South Africa were sent invitations.

Similar to the last time selection process, the Steering Committee determined the 16 teams for the 2009 World Baseball Classic based on criteria established to create the most highly-competitive international baseball event in the world. Some of the key factors involved in team evaluation and selection included: strength of native player base, number of professional players, international rankings, viability of domestic baseball programs, participant’s impact on baseball development in country/territory and diverse global representation.

“There has been significant improvement in the level of play internationally and indeed, Major League ranks include even more players from across the world,” said Gene Orza, chief operating officer of the Players’ Association. “The 16 teams selected best represent the breadth of quality play around the globe, which meets a key tournament objective, showing the world how far baseball has come internationally. If you liked the tournament last time around, wait ’til you see her this time.”

The venues are expected to be announced next month with all four first-round competitions being played outside the U.S., which will host Round 2, the semi-finals and finals, as it did in 2006.

Toronto remains a “very strong candidate” to host one of the four groups in first-round play, a source with knowledge of the event’s planning told The Canadian Press. Canada is likely to be joined by the United States, a Latin American country and a non-traditional baseball country in the first round, with the games being held at the Rogers Centre, home of the Major League Team Toronto Blue Jays.

Attendance for the ’06 tournament at its seven venues was 737,112 tickets sold. The semi-finals and finals were sold out at San Diego’s 45,000-seat PETCO Park, undoubtedly a front-runner to host the Classic’s finale again in 2009.

It was the first time that all Major League players were allowed to represent their native lands in an international baseball tournament. The baseball competition in the Summer Olympics, which is slated for Beijing in August, includes non-25-man roster MLB players only.

“The intensity in the stands as well as the intensity on the playing field was absolutely remarkable, and I’m not sure that going into it you could have felt that,” Commissioner Bud Selig said at the time regarding the legacy of the Classic. “I’m very confident that this will be the platform we use to take this sport internationally to the dimension that I want to take it and believe that we will.”

About the World Baseball Classic Steering Committee
The World Baseball Classic Steering Committee consists of 12 members representing professional baseball leagues, Club owners, players, international baseball federations and other international organizations affiliated with the game of baseball (for a complete list of members, see below). The Steering Committee provides ongoing guidance regarding the development of the premier international baseball tournament, the World Baseball Classic. The focus of the committee is to ensure that the tournament continues to maximize its potential to develop the game of baseball worldwide.

Steering Committee Members
Major League Baseball (2)

Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business
Rob Manfred, Executive Vice President, Labor Relations

MLB Players Association (2)
Gene Orza, Chief Operating Officer
Michael Weiner, General Counsel

International BAseball Federation (2)
Harvey Schiller, President
Eduardo de Bello, Panama

Nippon Professional Baseball (1)
Kazuo Hasegawa, Executive Secretary

Japan Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Toru Matsubara, Executive Director

Korean Baseball Organization (1)
Il-Sung Ha, Secretary General

Korean Professional Baseball Players Association (1)
Jin-kyun Na, Secretary General

Members-at-large (2)
Gyo Ishiguro, Chief Officer, Culture & Sports Projects, Yomiuri Shimbun
Roland Betts, President & Founder, Chelsea Piers, L.P.

About World Baseball Classic, Inc.
World Baseball Classic, Inc. is a company created at the direction of Major League Baseball (MLB) and the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) to operate the World Baseball Classic tournament. The tournament, which is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), is supported by MLB, the MLBPA, Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the Korea Baseball Organization (KBO), their respective players associations and other leagues and players from around the world.

About the World Baseball Classic
The World Baseball Classic is the premier international baseball tournament and features the best players in the world competing for their home countries and territories. In March 2006, 16 teams from across the globe competed in the inaugural event, which was sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation (IBAF). More than 740,000 fans from 48 states and 15 countries attended games and millions more watched on TV as Team Japan was crowned the first-ever World Baseball Classic Champion. The next tournament is scheduled for March 2009 and will be held every four years thereafter.

Canada may host some WBC games

Although there are at least one year away, the World Baseball Classic is preparing to show up again.

First, decide which field to play is quite important, according to the source told the Canadian Press, Canada is a “strong possibility” to host one of the four groups in first-round play at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

The group, which would include the powerhouse United States, will play its games at the Rogers Centre, home of the Toronto Blue Jays (Due to the weather condition I think). And the other three groups could be Tokyo, Mexico City and San Juan, Puerto Rico, which could let the first round to be all-international.

The second and final rounds would revert back to the United States, where most of the inaugural Classic back in 2006 was played. Currently site running include Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles, Minute Maid Park in Houston, AT&T Park in San Francisco, Chase Field in Phoenix and 2006 WBC final game host, Petco Park in San Diego.

An official announcement is likely to come in March.

Last time in World Baseball Classic, Canada posted a thrilling 8-6 upset of the Americans at Chase Field on March 8, 2006, which is one of the biggest wins in Canada National team history – but due to 9-1 lost to Mexico in the third game, it let Canada, America, Mexico tied at 2-1, but due to the tie-breaking formula, Canada did not advance to the second round.

In the 2009 tournament, Canada and the America are likely to be joined by a Latin American country and a non-traditional baseball country. That would once again leave the Canadian in tough to advance, although their team this time around has the potential to be much stronger than the ’06 club.

All-star catcher Russell Martin of Chelsea, Que., and pitchers Rich Harden of Victoria, Ryan Dempster of Gibsons, B.C., and Eric Gagne of Mascouche, Que. and starters Jeff Francis of North Delta, B.C., and Adam Loewen of Surrey, B.C., all took a miss last time because of injury or team issues.

2006 AL MVP Justin Morneau of New Westminster, B.C., and two-time all-star Jason Bay of Trail, B.C. and Erik Bedard of Navan, Ont., have all advanced in their careers and are much stronger now, which could be the nightmare for any teams within their group.

I can’t wait for World Baseball Classic 2009.

Five teams advanced!

Anothr five teams advanced to the second round today, with Mexico in Pool B, Cuba and Puerto Rico in Pool C, Dominican Republic and Venezuela in Pool D. As for the final spot, Canada or USA have final chance depends on the result of USA vs. South Africa game.

Pool B:
Mexico 9, Canada 1

MEXICO          - 420 201 000   --   9
CANADA          - 000 001 000   --   1

The Canadians came, they saw and they almost conquered. During a roller-coaster three-day run in the inaugural World Baseball Classic, Team Canada had to come from behind in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat a plucky South Africa team, then upset Team USA, but fizzled when all the Canadian dollars were on the line on Thursday night against Mexico. Losing to the Mexicans, 9-1, with a chance to wrap up a berth in the second round a day after beating the Americans.

When he travels in his native Mexico, Jorge Cantu hears one sport talked about more than any other. Team Mexico delivered that message on Thursday night, when it beat Canada, 9-1, to advance to the World Baseball Classic’s second round as Pool B’s No. 1 seed.

Pool C:
Cuba 11, Netherlands 2

CUBA            - 200 400 401   --  11
NETHERLANDS     - 000 002 000   --   2

The Netherlands’ hopes of advancing in the World Baseball Classic came to an end on Thursday night, as Cuba mashed its way to an 11-2 victory to lock up a spot in the second round of the tournament.

If there was ever any doubt that Cuba could compete in a tournament that featured the best teams it had ever faced, the club removed it with an extra-inning victory against Panama in its first game. Any remaining questions were obliterated Thursday with Cuba’s win against the Netherlands. More questions? Doubts, perhaps? The Cubans sure hope so.

Pool D:
Dominican Republic 8, Italy 3

ITALY           - 102 000 000   --   3
DOMINICAN REP   - 202 030 10x   --   8

The Dominican Republic performed as expected on Thursday, outslugging team Italy in an 8-3 win before a sellout crowd of 9,949 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex. This means the Dominican advances to the next round of the World Baseball Classic. This also will likely end Italy’s Classic run.

Burdened with two errors by third baseman Mark Saccomanno at Disney’s Wide World of Sports complex on Thursday afternoon, Italy closed its schedule in Pool D with loss to the Dominican Republic. However, Team Italy has no reason to be ashamed. But it appears its run in the inaugural World Baseball Classic has come to an end.

Venezuela 2, Australia 0

VENEZUELA       - 010 001 000   --   2
AUSTRALIA       - 000 000 000   --   0

It wasn’t supposed to be this close, and if ever there was a moral victory, this probably was it. Although Venezuela prevailed over Australia, 2-0, the losing club made this contest much more competitive than anyone could have expected.

The last leg of the initial journey had a few more bumps than expected. But Venezuela emerged victorious against a pesky Australian team and punched its ticket into the second round of the World Baseball Classic.

USA beated by Canada.

Lots of surprise happened again. USA lost, Cuba won in the extra innings, still not sure who will advance to the second round.

Pool B:
Canada 8, United States 6

CANADA          - 113 210 000   --   8
USA             - 000 060 000   --   6

Less than 24 hours after nearly falling to an unheralded South Africa team, Canada made some serious waves in the World Baseball Classic’s Pool B by beating Team USA, 8-6, on Wednesday afternoon at Chase Field. Canada now controls its own destiny to advance to the tournament’s next round entering its Thursday meeting with Mexico.

Team USA’s road to the second round of the World Baseball Classic just got a little rougher. After Wednesday’s stunning 8-6 loss to Canada at Chase Field, there is one fact that stands alone: The United States does not control its fate.

Mexico 10, South Africa 4

SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 300 100   --   4
MEXICO          - 212 031 10x   --  10

One thing has become clear about South Africa’s entry in the World Baseball Classic. It may be a bit short on talent, but it has an excess of heart. South Africa battled hard Wednesday night, but couldn’t hold off a relentless Team Mexico offense and fell, 9-4, in a World Baseball Classic game in front of a boisterous crowd of 7,937 at Scottsdale Stadium.

After being shut out in their first World Baseball Classic game, Mexico scored at least once in six of the first seven innings. The predominately Mexico-backed crowd, wearing mostly red and green clothing, hooted, hollered and sang throughout the game, perhaps sensing that their team was putting itself right back in the thick of Pool B play in the tournament and possible trip to Anaheim this weekend for the second round.

Pool C:
Cuba 8, Panama 6

CUBA            - 002 000 202 02  --   8
PANAMA          - 010 003 002 00  --   6

Just when Team Panama appeared to have momentum on its side, Cuba showed the crowd at Hiram Bithorn Stadium why it shouldn’t be counted out of the World Baseball Classic despite its lack of established Major Leaguers. Cuba dealt Panama a crushing 8-6 loss in 11 innings on Wednesday afternoon, mounting a two-out rally to win its first game of the event.

Cuba second baseman Yulieski Gourriel and his teammates reminded the 6,129 in attendance at Hiram Bithorn Stadium and anyone who was paying attention the reason for the season — and the tournament. It’s about baseball and pride, not to mention a healthy competition between countries.

Puerto Rico 8, Netherlands 3

PUERTO RICO     - 101 102 201   --   8
NETHERLANDS     - 000 120 000   --   3

Behind three home runs from three of the country’s biggest stars, Puerto Rico powered past the Netherlands, 8-3, in front of 15,570 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium on Wednesday, and continues to inch toward securing a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic, also to be held in the stadium.

The Netherlands made a game of it for five innings, carrying a tie score into the sixth, but Puerto Rico came out swinging that inning and never looked back, taking victory in the nightcap of the Pool C day-night doubleheader. The Netherlands was actually the home team in the tilt, though the crowd was squarely behind Puerto Rico, which was dressed in its road grey uniforms.

Pool D:
Venezuela 6, Italy 0

ITALY           - 000 000 000   --   0
VENEZUELA       - 101 110 20x   --   6

One night after exacting the mercy rule (winning by 10 runs) on Australia, Team Italy managed just two hits against a strong Venezuela pitching staff to drop a 6-0. A capacity crowd of 10,101 at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex was firmly in the corner of the Venezuelans, whose pitching staff had few problems.

Miguel Cabrera homered for the second straight game and drove in two runs as Venezuela rebounded from a loss in its World Baseball Classic opener. Freddy Garcia struck out seven and allowed one hit in 3 1/3 innings for Venezuela, three other pitchers combined on a two-hitter and struck out 11. Carlos Silva gave up a hit in 3 2/3 innings, and Rafael Betancourt and Francisco Rodriguez each pitched a hitless inning for Venezuela.

World Baseball Classic all over begins!

David Ortiz - Hits game-winning HR, 12th inning, Game 4, 2004 ALCS ©Photofile
Pool B, C, D of the 2006 World Baseball Classic started to fight today, there are five intense games to play, the biggest suprise is Italy; who gets the help from Major Leaguers and itself, shutout the 2004 Athens Olympic Silver Winner Australia. Other winners are United States, Puerto Rico, Canada and Dominican Republic.

March 7 Result:
Pool B:
United States 2, Mexico 0

MEXICO          - 000 000 000   --   0
USA             - 000 100 10x   --   2

Jake Peavy and a parade of relievers combined on a four-hitter against a lineup loaded with major-leaguers Tuesday, leading the United States to a 2-0 victory over Mexico in its World Baseball Classic debut. Home runs by Derrek Lee and Chipper Jones were all that was necessary on offense.

“I never would have said this yesterday,” Lee said after the World Baseball Classic opener for both teams, “but today, being on the field, I think this means more. It’s like Jake Peavy said, ‘You’re not playing for your city, you’re playing for your country.’ When you have your country behind you, there’s a lot of responsibility. There’s no monetary motivation for this. Guys came to this team to play for their country. It’s as simple as that.”

Canada 11, South Africa 8

CANADA          - 000 030 404   --  11
SOUTH AFRICA    - 000 040 130   --   8

Canada narrowly avoided a startling loss in its World Baseball Classic debut, rallying for four runs in the top of the ninth inning to beat South Africa 11-8 Tuesday night.

“I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel [worried] going into the ninth inning,” Canada third baseman Corey Koskie said. “But one of the great things about baseball is I knew we had a good chance.” “Everyone was putting out to the end. We were going after it.”

Pool C:
Puerto Rico 2, Panama 1

PANAMA          - 000 100 000   --   1
PUERTO RICO     - 000 020 00x   --   2

Puerto Rico’s first game in the World Baseball Classic was a tougher test than many expected. Bernie Williams hit a tiebreaking single, Alex Rios homered and Team Puerto Rico made its WBC debut with a 2-1 victory over Panama.

I felt like I was playing the World Series in March,” Williams said. “It was a great feeling. There is something very special about playing in my country, in my hometown. People chanting my name was a very special feeling for me. I will treasure that.”

Pool D:
Dominican Republic 11, Venezuela 5

DOMINICAN REP   - 020 040 005   --  11
VENEZUELA       - 000 121 100   --   5

2005 AL Cy Young winner Bartolo Colon vs. Johan Santana, the 2004 AL Cy Young winner, but hitters took the show. David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre each homered twice, leading a powerful Dominican team to an 11-5 victory over Venezuela in their World Baseball Classic opener.

The fans were seemingly split 50-50 between their allegiances to their native countries. Equally enthusiastic, Dominican and Venezuelan fans proudly waved their respective flags and cheered loudly throughout the contest, whether it was for home runs, groundouts or fly balls.

Italy 10, Australia 0

AUSTRALIA       - 000 000 0  --   0
ITALY           - 031 122 1  --  10

Mike Piazza doubled and scored a run and Jason Grilli was almost perfect in 4 2/3 innings of work, leading Italy to a 10-0 victory over Australia in the first round of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.

“This is what we talked about when we were in a group,” Italy manager Matt Galante said. “We want to show the world we can play. And how well we do, time will tell. But we feel we can compete, and if you can compete, you’ve got a chance. That’s what I keep saying.”

Major Leaguers join Coach Stuff

Larry Walker 2005 - Batting Action
Some ex- Major Leaguers did not able to play for World Baseball Classic next spring, but they will be the coach stuff for several teams.

51-year-old Ken Griffey Sr., who’s the special consultant of Cincinnati Reds, will be the first base coach of Team USA.

After 19-year major league career, Griffey was the Reds’ first base coach in 2000; he also coached with the Seattle Mariners several years before returning to Cincinnati, where he got his start as a player.

The U.S. team will train in Phoenix from March 3-6 and play the first round games with Canada, Mexico and South Africa at the Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field (formerly known as Bank One Ballpark) and Scottsdale Stadium, spring home of the San Francisco Giants.

Buck Martinez, a former Toronto Blue Jays manager, will serve as U.S. manager with Davey Johnson as bench coach, Reggie Smith as hitting coach and Marcel Lachemann as pitching coach.

If the U.S. team advances all the way through, it will play second round in Anaheim Stadium and the semifinals and finals at PETCO Park in San Diego.

As for his son, Ken Griffey Jr. hasn’t made a commitment to play since he wants to be sure he’s fully recovered from surgeries on his knee and hamstring in September.

45-year-old John Franco, former New York Mets left-handed pitcher, will be the pitching coach for the Italian team. Former Mets coach Matt Galante will manage, and Mike Piazza has already agreed to catch for the Italy.

Larry Walker, 39, was outfielder for the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies and St. Louis Cardinals, retired in October, Canada Manager Ernie Whitt want him as a bench coach.

Walker has a herniated disc in his neck and is trying to let it heal without surgery, meaning he cannot swing a bat. But he has said he would like to do something for the Canadian team.

“He’ll be a part of the team, if I have anything to say about it,” said Whitt, the Toronto Blue Jays bench coach and Canada manager for the WBC. “I think he deserves that right.” “He can stand right next to me,” Whitt said. “I’d love to have him around. I’d love to have him as a player.” Whitt said he would like to have Walker, “even as a DH.” “If he doesn’t want to do that then he’d have strong consideration as a bench coach,” Whitt said.

The Canadian team will train at the Blue Jays’ spring training home in Dunedin, Florida in early March before play the first round at March 7 in Arizona.

Because it is spring training and pitchers will has pitch count limits, Whitt said he plans to use two starters each game and hope they can combine for about six innings. “We’ll have 13 to 14 pitchers and six of them will be starters,” Whitt said.

Walker won’t play, willing to help

Larry Walker, who announce retirement in October, will not play for World Baseball Classic, but willing to help

After helping the St. Louis Cardinals advanced to National League Championship Series, the native of British Columbia., three-time National League batting champion and NL most valuable player, has retired.

Entering to his second month of retirement, although Walker admits he would love the opportunity to suit up in a Team Canada uniform again, he says he need time for the herniated disc in his neck to heal without requiring surgery.

That means he won’t be able swing a bat and won’t be able to play, “Unfortunately, I have to pass on the World Classic,” said Walker, Canada’s greatest position player. “At 39, I would probably hurt more than help.”

Just because Walker won’t be in the Team Canada lineup, don’t think that means he doesn’t want to be in Scottsdale come March. “If manager Ernie Whitt would like me to be there in uniform as a coach or even to throw batting practice, whatever, I would be interested,” he said.

Walker out of World Classic


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