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A Brief Guide to Pools C and D of the Classic
Pools A and B of this year’s edition of the World Baseball Classic began last Friday in Japan and Taiwan, respectively, and have already produced four qualifiers for the tournament’s second round: Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands, and Taipei.
Starting today (Thursday), play starts among teams in Pools C and D. And while many of the competition’s earliest games took place under cover of darkness for those in the Western Hemisphere, the forthcoming set of games is decidedly more amendable to “television coverage” for “North Americans.”
What follows is a brief guide to Pools C and D of the Classic.
As noted above, first-round play begins on Thursday in Pools C and D — which day is also marked by the beginning of second-round games between the four qualifiers from Pool A and B (Cuba, Japan, the Netherlands, and Taipei).
Below are the eight teams scheduled to commence first-round play starting today and Friday — and those same teams’ most notable players.
Notable Players: Young and talented Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie, less young but not completely hopeless Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, and Reds uber-batsman Joey Votto. Also notable is this: among the pitchers on the Canadian roster is well-regarded Pirates right-handed prospect Jameson Taillon.
Nation: Dominican Republic
Notable Players: The whole team, more or less, with the exception perhaps of what appears to be starting left fielder Ricardo Nanita, a member of the Toronto system from 2010 to -12 — and the Washington system before that. Otherwise: Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes, Carlos Santana, etc. Pitching is a little less talent-laden. Wandy Rodriguez appears to be the staff ace.
Notable Players: Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia, real-live Italian (and Mariners third-base prospect) Alex Liddi, and Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo. Outfielders Lorenzo Avagnina and Mario Chiarini — along with pitchers Chris Cooper and Tiago Da Silva — finished among the regressed leaders in the Italian domestic league this last season.
Notable Players: Surprisingly talented Brewers starter Marco Estrada, surprising national hero Karim Garcia, other Brewers starters Yovani Gallardo, very good hitter Adrian Gonzalez, and uber-reliever Sergio Romo.
Nation: Puerto Rico
Notable Players: Outfielder Carlos Beltran, catcher Yadier Molina, and other outfielder Angel Pagan. Kansas City’s Irving Falu started Wednesday’s exhibition against the Twins (box), although it’s not impossible that Eddie Rosario — a Twins prospect, in fact — will get plate appearances there, as well. As with many of the teams here, the pitching staff is less talented, relatively speaking. Right-hander Nelson Figueroa, who signed a minor-league contract with Arizona this winter, appears to be the No. 1 starter.
Notable Players: Houston reliever Rhiner Cruz, itinerant corner-type (and one-time Atlanta Brave) Barbaro Canizares, and Rangers outfield prospect Engel Beltre. According to the Wall St. Journal, Spain features the fewest native-born players on its team — just one, in this case (pitcher Eric Gonzalez).
Notable Players: More or less an entire roster of major-leaguers, including Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Salvador Perez, and Pablo Sandoval. Manager Luis Sojo appeared to deploy something like an official starting lineup on Wednesday against the New York Mets (box). Detroit right-hander Anibal Sanchez is the club’s best starter, probably — Sojo utilizes promising Tampa Bay left-hander Alex Torres, who was the best pitcher in this year’s Venezuelan Winter League.
Schedule of Games
Here, stolen shamelessly and without shame from the official site of the World Baseball Classic, is a list of the games scheduled between now and Friday morning (all times ET):
03:00 PM Italy vs. Mexico
06:30 PM Venezuelan vs. Dominican Republic
*10:00 PM Netherlands vs. Cuba
*05:00 AM Japan vs. Taipei
*Denotes second-round game from teams in Pools A and B.
The Classic is available on the MLB Network — and streaming online for customers of Bright House, DIRECTV, and Time Warner Cable. Spanish coverage (relevant to many of the games in Pools C and D) is available on ESPN Deportes and maybe online via Watch ESPN — which is to say, it was listed there, but has since been removed.
Furthermore, MLBAM has released a dedicated app for the WBC, as well, which includes Gameday coverage and video highlights.
Action Footage: Italy’s Mario Chiarini
Here’s action footage from the 2009 World Baseball Classic of Italian outfielder Mario Chiarini making a deft catch on a batted ball by Venezuela’s Bobby Abreu. After finishing among the batting leaders in the Italian domestic league (see above), Chiarini is likely to start once again in right field for the Italian side.
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