January 28, 2017
HAVANA- Cuba's baseball team for the upcoming IV World Baseball Classic (WBC) will be managed by longtime coach, Carlos Marti, who just won the island's national championship, the Granma Sorrels.
In a press conference on Thursday, the Cuban Baseball Federation named Marti as manager for the global tournament sponsored by U.S. Major League Baseball (MLB), which will begin on March 7 in Asia.
"We'll go to this world competition with high hopes and play to win every game. It is a great responsibility to lead the Cuban team to the WBC," Marti told reporters.
The experienced baseball coach said Cuba's team also announced a 50-player roster that will later be trimmed to a final 28.
Cuba is in Group B of the tournament along with Japan, China and Australia and will play at the Tokyo Dome in Japan.
"Japan is the favorite, Australia and China aren't teams to take lightly and we must beat them to assure we move on to the second round," he added.
The first two teams of this group will qualify for the second round in Tokyo along with the top two squads from Group A, made up of South Korea, Chinese Taipei, the Netherlands and Israel.
Marti mentioned that Cuba's result in 2013, when the island was eliminated in the second round was due to a lack of preparation.
"We barely had time to prepare and hadn't played much against other teams beforehand," he said.
This time, Cuba will travel to Asia on February 17 to play 11 preparatory games against South Korea, Chinese Taipei and Japan.
Cuba's best Classic finish came in 2006, when it reached the championship game, losing to Japan, 10-6. The Cubans were eliminated yet again by the Japanese in 2009 in round two of the tournament, marking the national team's lowest finish in an international competition. Xinhua News
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