Cuba Makes First Cut Towards WBC Team
Cuba will field a team loaded with talent that mixes veteran players with young prospects in the World Baseball Classic, which begins with the Asian teams playing March 3 in Japan and concludes in San Diego on March 20.
The island’s preliminary roster of 60 players was reduced Monday to 35, announced Carlos Rodriguez, president of the Cuban Baseball Federation, on The Round Table TV and radio program.
The cut came after Cuba completed a three game sweep last week of the Nicaraguan national team 8-2, 9-3 and 13-0 and the millions of passionate fans could get a glimpse at the preparedness of their team.
By Thursday March 2, Cuba must present its final 30-man team that plays its first WBC game on March 8 against Panama in Puerto Rico, followed by Holland on the 9th and Group C favorite Puerto Rico on the 10th.
The average age of the players making the first cut is 28.
The 16 pitchers competing to make the final team include six left-handers Adiel Palma, Norberto Gonzalez, Yosvani Perez, Yulieski Gonzalez, Maikel Folch and Yosvani Fonseca.
The right-handers are Pedro Luis Lazo, Vicyohandri Odelin, Yadel Marti, Jonder Martinez, Ormari Romero, Luis Miguel Rodriguez, Luis Borroto, Yunieski Maya, Yadier Pedroso and Deinys Suarez.
The catchers are Ariel Pestano, Roger Machado, Eriel Sanchez and Vladimir Garcia.
The eight infielders led by Eduardo Paret, Michel Enriquez and Yulieski Gourriel also include Juan Carlos Moreno, Rudy Reyes, Yorelvis Charles, Joan Carlos Pedroso and Ariel Borrero.
The preliminary team includes seven outfielders: Frederich Cepeda, Osmani Urrutia, Carlos Tabares, Alexei Ramirez, Yoandry Garlobo, Leslie Anderson and Yoennis Cespedes.
Manager Higinio Velez and head coach Benito Comacho told the nationwide TV audience that the players on the Olympic and World Cup champion Cuban team are highly motivated and in excellent shape for the tough competition promised in the World Baseball Classic.
The final 30-man Cuban team is scheduled to play tune-up games against Havana’s popular Industriales team on Friday and Saturday.