Friday, January 18, 2013

Venezuela looks good going into 2013 World Baseball Classic

by Clifford F. Thies

Is it too early to start talking baseball?

The rosters are now set for the 2013 WBC that will get underway on March 2nd. Looking at the rosters, Venezuela has to be tabbed the favorite, with a line-up anchored by Miguel Cabrera of the Detroit Tigers. But, you can never dismiss Japan, two-time defending champions, with the discipline of its players.

Joining the twelve automatic qualifiers for the tournament (Australia, China, Cuba, Dominican Rep., Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, U.S. and Venezuela) are the four teams that advanced from the qualifying round (Brazil, Canada, Spain and Taiwan) (see the summary of the qualifying round below).

Most of the rosters include professional ballplayers of U.S. Major League Baseball. An obvious exception is Cuba. Strangely, Japan's roster is, this year, also void of MLB players. Two-time MVP Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox will not be playing in this year's WBC, nor will Ichiro Suzuki of the New York Yankees or Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers.

For the first time, China will have a MLB ballplayer on its roster, Bruce Chen of the Kansas City Royals. Chen is Panamanian of Chinese descent. In the last two WBC, Chen played for Panama. But the country of his birth was defeated in the qualifying round. He is allowed to play for China by reason of his ancestry. (Similarly, Francisco Cervelli of the New York Yankees, who was born in Venezuela, plays for Italy by reason of his ancestry.)

Qualifying Round (2013)

Group 1 Jupiter, Florida - France, Israel, Spain and South Africa; Spain defeated Israel to advance

Group 2 Regensburg, Germany - Canada, Czech Rep., Germany and Great Britain; Canada defeated Germany to advance

Group 3 Panama City, Panama - Brazil, Colombia, Nicaragua and Panama; Brazil defeated Panama to advance

Group 4 New Taipei City, Taiwan - New Zealand, Philippines, Taiwan and Thailand; Taiwan defeated New Zealand to advance

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