Baseball Recaps, Stories
World Baseball Classic - March 2006
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2006 by Marco Stoovelaar

Index World Baseball Classic
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34 players named for WBC-trip. (February 14)
Clemens, Jeter, Rodriguez head USA squad for WBC. (February 14)
Dutch team opens exhibition series with victory. (February 24-25)
Dutch also win second exhibition game. (February 26-27)
Exhibition loss for Dutch team. (February 28-March 1)
Balentien will miss WBC. (March 2)
Asian Pool World Baseball Classic underway. (March 3)
Rooi, Coenraad cut from Dutch roster. (March 3)
Dutch named to officiate in WBC. (March 3)
Major League-teams to play vs. WBC-teams. (March 3)
Japan and Korea clinch spot in Round Two. (March 4)
WBC-teams surprise vs. Major Leaguers. (March 4)
Dutch team to face John Smoltz. (March 4)
Korea unbeaten winner of Pool A. (March 5)
Dutch Team finish exhibition series with loss. (March 5)
Three WBC-teams beat Major Leaguers. (March 5)
Dutch Team arrives in Puerto Rico. (March 6)
Dominicans win Pool D-opener. (March 7)
Fred van Groningen Schinkel officiates opener. (March 7)
Team USA shuts out Mexico. (March 7)
Small victory for Puerto Rico. (March 7)
Big shutout-win for Italy. (March 7)
Tough win for Canada. (March 7)

34 players named for WBC-trip
NIEUWEGEIN (Neth.) - Dutch Manager Robert Eenhoorn has trimmed his initial 60-man roster back to 35 players earlier this month, as the inaugural World Baseball Classic (WBC) is approaching. On Tuesday (February 14), one additional player was dropped, as 34 players will travel with the national squad to Florida on Friday to prepare for the WBC. On March 3, the final roster of 30 players will be announced. In January, a preliminary roster of 60 players had to be submitted. All players on that roster remain eligible for the team, before the final roster is being submitted. Before every round, teams can submit new rosters and make changes because of injuries.
The player that was left off the roster for the trip to Florida was OF Bryan Engelhardt, who missed almost the entire season last year with an arm-injury. While the outfielder practiced in the winterperiod with his team (Instant Holland Almere '90) and the national squad, it was stated in a press release ''that Manager Robert Eenhoorn thinks it's not wise to let the lefthanded hitter play against Major League-pitchers with whom the Dutch team will be confronted during the WBC''.

...Randall Simon (left) and Andruw Jones...
(Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
The World Baseball Classic opens March 3 in Tokyo (Japan), where Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China will play the first (Asian) round. The Dutch national team opens its first round on March 8 in San Juan (Puerto Rico) against the host country, followed by games against Cuba (March 9) and Panama (March 10). The two best teams of each of the four poules will qualify for the second round (quarter finals), which will be played a few days later. The semi-finals and final will be played in San Diego (USA).
In Florida, the Dutch squad will first practice in Bradenton at the Spring Training-site of the Pittsburgh Pirates, then travels to Kissimmee, where the team ends its preparations on the complex of the Atlanta Braves.
On February 24 and 26, the Dutch team will play two games in St. Petersburg against Eckerd College. On March 5, Eenhoorn's team will play against a split-squad team of the Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista.

Fourteen of the selected players played professionally last season, while six others have played professionally in the past.
The most recognizable name on the roster is Andruw Jones, the centerfielder of the Atlanta Braves, who led the Major League last year with 51 homeruns and also had 128 Runs Batted In, making him a serious candidate for the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Jones is no stranger to the Dutch team, as he visited the team while it practiced on Curašao early 2004. Another visitor then was Randall Simon, a former teammate of Jones with the Atlanta Braves. Afterwards, Simon played for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Chicago Cubs in the Majors, but last year played professionally in Japan. Simon also is one of the players on Eenhoorn's roster.
Andruw Jones (Atlanta Braves), Chairon Isenia (Tampa Bay Devil Rays), Yurendell DeCaster (Pittsburgh Pirates) and Wladimir Balentien (Seattle Mariners) will join the national team on March 2, as they are preparing for the upcoming season with the Major League-team of their respective club in Spring Training, which opens this week. Jones, DeCaster and Balentien are on the 40-man rosters, while Isenia is a non-roster Spring Training invitee. DeCaster, Balentien and Isenia participated with the Ducth team in the 2004 Olympic Games.

The coachingstaff for the World Baseball Classic has been expanded with former Major League-pitcher Bob Welch, who played 17 seasons on the highest pro-level. Welch pitched for the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1978-1987 and the Oakland A's from 1988-1994, appearing in 506 games in which he threw 1969 strikeouts. He finished his career with a 211-146 record. He was a member of a World Series-team five times. In 1978 and 1981 with the Dodgers, in 1988-1989-1990 with the A's.

Pitchers (15)Club / OrganizationInt. GamesCatchers (4)Club / OrganizationInt. Games
David BergmanCorendon Kinheim10Johnny BalentinaDOOR Neptunus138
Kenny BerkenboschFlorida Marlins-org.-Maikel BennerADO41
Forstin CoenraadInstant Holland Almere '902Chairon IseniaTampa Bay Devil Rays-org.43
Rob CordemansADO47Sidney de JongMr. Cocker HCAW63
Robin van DoornspeekADO19
Dave DraijerKonica Minolta Pioniers42Coaching Staff
Gregory GustinaDOOR Neptunus7Robert EenhoornManager
Jair JurrjensDetroit Tigers-org.-Brian FarleyBench Coach
Michiel van KampenCorendon Kinheim28Jack Hubbard1B Coach
Calvin MaduroNew York Yankees-org.5Ben Thijssen3B Coach
Diegomar MarkwellDOOR Neptunus11Hensley MeulensHitting Coach
Shairon MartisSan Francisco Giants-org.-Bob WelchPitching Coach
Simon PantophletSaint Martin-Steve MatthewBullpen Coach
Alexander SmitMinnesota Twins-org.14
Nick StuifbergenMr. Cocker HCAW5
Infielders (8)Club / OrganizationInt. GamesOutfielders (7)Club / OrganizationInt. Games
Sharnol AdrianaSan Luis Potosi (Mexico)73Wladimir BalentienSeattle Mariners10
Ivanon CoffieInstant Holland Almere '9039Yurendell DeCasterPittsburgh Pirates21
Michael DuursmaKonica Minolta Pioniers29Andruw JonesAtlanta Braves-
Percy IseniaADO115Eugene Kingsaleex-Detroit Tigers-org.31
Raily LegitoDOOR Neptunus126Dirk van 't KloosterCorendon Kinheim142
Vince RooiPittsburgh Pirates-org.20Harvey MonteADO73
Randall SimonTampa Bay Devil Rays-org.-Danny RombleyCorendon Kinheim42
Hainley StatiaLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim-org.-

(February 14)

Clemens, Jeter, Rodriguez head USA squad for WBC
PHOENIX, Arizona (USA) - Roger Clemens, Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez are some of the leading players that have been named to Team USA for the upcoming World Baseball Classic. While the 30-man roster for the American squad was named today (Tuesday), the final roster has to be submitted on March 2.

43-year old Clemens, who last year pitched for the Houston Astros, is currently a Free Agent and without a contract. 'The Rocket' has played in 22 Major League-seasons, winning 351 games and striking out 4502 batters. The multi Cy Young Award-winner is one of four starters on the roster of Manager Buck Martinez.
Other leading players on the roster are pitchers Billy Wagner (New York Mets), Huston Street (Oakland A's) and Dontrelle Willis (Florida Marlins), catcher Jason Varitek (Boston Red Sox), infielders Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez (both New York Yankees), Mark Teixeira (Texas Rangers), Derrek Lee (Chicago Cubs) and Chipper Jones (Atlanta Braves) and outfielders Ken Griffey, Jr. (Cincinnati Reds) and Johnny Damon, who recently came to the Yankees from the Red Sox.
The American team will play its preliminary round in the Phoenix-area in Arizona and meets Mexico, Canada and South Africa. The players, who are all in Spring Training with their respective Major League-club, will come together on March 2, then practice for two days, before playing an exhibition game on March 5 vs. the San Francisco Giants.

Pitchers (14)OrganizationCatchers (3)Organization
Roger Clemensno clubMichael BarrettChicago Cubs
Chad CorderoWashington NationalsBrian SchneiderWashington Nationals
Brian FuentesColorado RockiesJason VaritekBoston Red Sox
Todd JonesDetroit Tigers
Brad LidgeHouston Astros
Joe NathanMinnesota Twins
Jake PeavySan Diego Padres
C.C. SabathiaCleveland Indians
Scot ShieldsLos Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Huston StreetOakland A's
Mike TimlinBoston Red Sox
Billy WagnerNew York Mets
Dan WheelerHouston Astros
Dontrelle WillisFlorida Marlins
Infielders (7)OrganizationOutfielders (6)Organization
Derek JeterNew York YankeesJohnny DamonNew York Yankees
Chipper JonesAtlanta BravesJeff FrancoeurAtlanta Braves
Derrek LeeChicago CubsKen Griffey, Jr.Cincinnati Reds
Alex RodriguezNew York YankeesMatt HollidayColorado Rockies
Mark TeixeiraTexas RangersVernon WellsToronto Blue Jays
Chase UtleyPhiladelphia PhilliesRandy WinnSan Francisco Giants
Michael YoungTexas Rangers

(February 14)

Dutch Team opens exhibition series with victory
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (USA) - The Dutch National Baseball Team played its first exhibition game on Friday-evening (February 24) at St. Petersburg and registered a 3-1 victory against the team of Eckerd College. The game is part of the preparations for the World Baseball Classic, which for the Dutch team opens on March 8 in Puerto Rico.
The Dutch team will play three more exhibition games. On Sunday, the squad again will play against Eckerd College, while an additional exhibition game has been added for next Tuesday when the team of The University of Tampa will be the opponent. The series will be closed on March 5 when the Dutch are playing against a split-squad team of the Major League Atlanta Braves in Lake Buena Vista.

Friday's game was played on the campus of Eckerd College, which is located on the waterfront of St. Petersburg against a backdrop of palm trees. Eckerd College is a private college of liberal arts and sciences, whose baseball-team last Tuesday won its first game of the season vs. Saint Leo University, 7-4. Before that game, the Tritons had lost its first nine games in a row. The Tritons are coached by Bill Mathews, whose the Head Coach of the national team of Poland since 1997 and is a coaching coordinator for Tampa Bay Devil Rays training camps.
Originally, the game was scheduled to start at 7:00 PM on Friday, but instead started an hour earlier, because of unstable weather. It had rained in the afternoon, but that stopped just before the game started.
Dutch Manager Robert Eenhoorn used five pitchers in the game: Nick Stuifbergen, Alexander Smit, David Bergman, Gregory Gustina and Michiel van Kampen. The first four each threw two innings.
Complete Game Recap, Play-by-Play & Box Score

Since the Dutch team arrived in Florida last Friday, it had practiced daily on the Spring Training-site of the Pittsburgh Pirates in nearby Bradenton.
On Wednesday, the roster of the Dutch team expended to 29 players as pitcher Jair Jurrjens arrived from the Antilles to join the team. Simon Pantophlet, another pitcher, will arrive from St. Martin soon. OF Andruw Jones (Atlanta Braves), IF/OF Yurendell DeCaster (Pittsburgh Pirates), OF Wladimir Balentien (Seattle Mariners) and C Chairon Isenia (Tampa Bay Devil Rays) will join the national team on March 2 to make it a 34-man roster. Jones, DeCaster and Balentien are all on the 40-man Major League-roster of their respective club, while Isenia is a non-roster Spring Training invitee.
On March 3, the final 30-man roster has to be announced for the World Baseball Classic.
(February 24-25)

Dutch also win second exhibition game
ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (USA) - On Sunday-afternoon (February 26), the Dutch National Baseball Team also won its second of four exhibition games which are being played in Florida as preparation for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
At St. Petersburg, the Dutch squad registered a 10-0 shutout against the Tritons, the baseball-team of Eckerd College, whom they defeated 3-1 on Friday-evening to open the series.
The next game will be played on Tuesday-evening in Clearwater when the Dutch team faces the Spartans, the team of The University of Tampa. The series will close next Sunday against the Atlanta Braves Major League-team.

Meanwhile, Team Japan also has played two exhibition games in its preparations for the World Baseball Classic. On Saturday, the team was beaten 4-3 by the Nippon Professional Baseball All Stars in Fukuoka. In the same city, the Japanese team won 5-1 on Sunday vs. the Chiba Lotte Marines, which last year won the Japan Series. Japan will play its last exhibition game on Wednesday at Tokyo vs. the Yomiuri Giants. The Asian round of the WBC opens op March 3 with the game between Korea and Taiwan. In the evening, Japan plays its first game vs. China. The Asian pool will be played in Tokyo.

As he did in the opening game, Dutch Manager again used several pitchers. After using five in the opener, tonight Eenhoorn send six pitchers to the mound. Rob Cordemans started and thre three innings. The righthander was followed by two rookies, who made their national team debut. First, Jair Jurrjens pitched two innings, next Kenny Berkenbosch threw one inning. Forstin Coenraad, who made his debut last year during the European Championships in the Czech Republic, was the fourth pitcher and also threw one inning. Next, Robin van Doornspeek also pitched one inning. The closer for Sunday's game was Dave Draijer, who threw the remaining ninth inning. During the World Baseball Classic, their also will be several pitching changes during the game for all teams, as pitchers will be limited to a pitch-count, according to tournament rules.
After leading 2-0 after six innings, the Dutch team added eight runs in the last three at bats. Offensively, the team had 15 basehits.
Complete Game Recap, Play-by-Play & Box Score

The game was postponed for one-and-a-half hour to prepare the field after it had rained heavily all night. In the morning hours, the rain disappeared and a steady wind blew the field dry, but just to make sure, it was agreed to start the game at a later time. It remained dry and even became sunnier for the remainder of the day, meaning the game could be played under good conditions.
(February 26-27)

Exhibition loss for Dutch team
CLEARWATER, Florida (USA) - After a few lesser days concerning the weather, it was another beautiful and sunny day in Florida on Tuesday. Another day to play ball. And that the Dutch National Baseball Team did, playing its third of four exhibition games before traveling to Puerto Rico for the World Baseball Classic early next week.
On Tuesday-evening, the Dutch team lost against the Spartans, the team of The University of Tampa. Tampa trailed 6-4 in the ninth, but then came back with three runs to win 7-6. The game was played in Jack Russell Stadium, the former Spring Training-home of the Philadelphia Phillies.
The Dutch team will close its exhibition series next Sunday at Lake Buena Vista against a split-squad of the Major League Atlanta Braves. In that game, the Braves will do without its regular centerfielder Andruw Jones, as he will be on the Dutch roster for that game. The Dutch team will play that game for the first time with its official 30-man roster, as the deadline for submitting the final roster to the organisors of the World Baseball Classic is Friday-afternoon, March 3 at noon.
Meanwhile, the first decison towards the compilation of that final 30-man roster has already been made. Pitcher Simon Pantophlet, who was scheduled to join the team last week from St. Martin, was unable to travel to Florida due to visa-problems. Therefore, it was decided that he was dropped off the roster. Before Thursday, three more players will be cut, as there are currently 33 players on the roster, including the four Major League-players, who will join the team on Thursday.

On Monday, Puerto Rico announced its 30-man roster for the WBC. Puerto Rico will be the first opponent for the Dutch squad on March 8. The day before, Puerto Rico will play its first game against Panama. The Dutch, and the other oppponents, will face a tough Puerto Rican squad, which has 27 players on its roster with Major League (and World Series)-experience, including stars Ivan Rodriguez (catcher, Detroit Tigers), Carlos Beltran (outfielder, New York Mets) and Carlos Delgado (first base, New York Mets).
Other big league-players on the roster are 1B/C Javy Lopez, C Yadier Molina, 2B Alex Cora, OF Jose Cruz, Jr., OF Ricky Ledee and OF Bernie Williams, who is a former teammate of both Dutch Manager Robert Eenhoorn (1994-1996) and Dutch Coach Hensley Meulens (1991-1993) with the New York Yankees.

At Tokyo (Japan), final preparations are underway to open the WBC in Pool A, which will start on Friday. Two of the four participating teams lost exhibition games on Tuesday.
In the afternoon, Taiwan was beaten 6-3 by the Chiba Lotte Marines, while in the afternoon, China was shutout 17-0 by the Yomiuri Giants. China, managed by former Major Leaguer Jim Lefebvre, trailed 7-0 when Yomiuri scored ten runs in the ninth inning, including four on a grand slam by Kenji Yano.

The Dutch team used six pitchers in its game against Tampa. Lefthander Diegomar Markwell started for Manager Robert Eenhoorn and threw three innings. He was followed by Shairon Martis, who made his Dutch team-debut and pitched two innings. Gregory Gustina, David Bergman, Michiel van Kampen and Dave Draijer then pitched all one inning each to complete the game.
The Dutch team opened the score early and was leading 6-2 halfway the game, which appeared to be over in just over two hours, but eventual lasted 2:40 hrs, just as the previous two. The Dutch team was unable to add more runs, but the Spartans added two more runs after the sixth inning to make it 6-4, then scored three runs in the ninth to win 7-6.
Complete Game Recap, Play-by-Play & Box Score

Regarding to the first two games, there were some minor changes in the Dutch squad.
Seven of the eight position players who started the first and second game also started this game. There was one difference with those games. Today, Harvey Monte made his first start, playing in rightfield. In the batting order, he replaced Danny Rombley, who had started the previous two games in leftfield.
Remained the batting order for the first two games intact (only Percy Isenia started and batted in Sharnol Adriana's slot as the DH in Game Two), this time the middle three batters had changed slots. Sidney de Jong dropped from fourth to sixth place, while Ivanon Coffie (5th) and Sharnol Adriana (6th) moved up one spot. Also, Raily Legito, who batted in ninth place the first two games, moved up to eighth, while Monte now batted ninth. Eenhoorn used his third starting DH. After Adriana and Isenia, today's DH was Randall Simon, who started at first base the first two games. Coincidentally, Adriana and Isenia also are first basemen.
(February 28)

Balentien will miss WBC

...Wladimir Balentien...
...not on Dutch WBC-roster...
(Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
BRADENTON, Florida (USA) - Outfielder Wladimir Balentien will not be on Dutch Manager Robert Eenhoorn's final roster for the World Baseball Classic, which opens with the Asian Pool on Friday. The Dutch team opens its pool next Wednesday in Puerto Rico.

Powerhitting outfielder Wladimir Balentien was scheduled to join the Dutch team on Thursday, together with Andruw Jones, Yurendell DeCaster and Chairon Isenia, but had to withdraw because of an injury.
Balentien was on the 40-man Major League-roster with the Seattle Mariners and was in Spring Training with the team in Arizona, but injured his hamstring while preparing for the uopcoming season.
In a press release it was stated that Balentien might be able to play for the Dutch team in the World Baseball Classic, but Manager Eenhoorn is precautious with one of his best players and therefore the outfielder will miss the inaugural edition of the WBC. Eenhoorn is saying he will need Balentien in the future, especially next year when its a qualification year for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (China).
The withdrawal of Balentien is without any doubt a sure miss for the Dutch squad. In 2004, he made his debut with the Dutch team while participating in the Torneo Preolimpico di Baseball in Italy, which was followed by the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens (Greece).

There are now 32 players on Eenhoorn's roster. The final roster of 30 players has to be announced before noon on Friday, March 3.
(March 2)

Asian Pool World Baseball Classic underway
TOKYO (Japan) - The first round of the World Baseball Classic started on Friday in Tokyo (Japan) with two games in the Asian pool. The two winners of this pool will travel to teh American continent next week for participation in the Second Round.
On the first day, Korea opened with a 2-0 shutout vs. Taiwan, while in the evening Japan had no mercy with China and won 18-2. All games are played in the Tokyo Dome, the home of the Yomiuri Giants.

In the opener, Korean designated hitter Hee-Seop Choi became the first player to register a hit in the World Baseball Classic, as hed led off with a double in the top of the second inning.
Korea scored its first run in the fourth inning when Seung-Yeop Lee walked and scored on a 2-out double by Sung-Heon Hong. The score was doubled in the fifth. Dong-Joo Kim then led off with a single and was replaced by pinch-runner Jae-Gul Kim, who stole second and scored on a one-out single by Sung-Heon Hong.
Taiwan (or Chinese Taipei) got scoring opportunities, but stranded eight runners, including six in scoring position. Trailing 2-0, Taiwan got runners on first and third in the ninth with two outs, but then Korean short stop Jin-Man Park made a great play on a hit by Chin-Iung Hu to end the game.
Both teams used four pitchers. In the First Round, pitchers have a limit of 65 pitches. A little more than 5.000 spectators watched the game.
The Taiwanese team had prepared itself for the Classic in Australia, where it played eight games against the Australian WBC Team. The series was split, 4-4. On Tuesday, Taiwan played its last exhibition game in Tokyo and lost 6-3 to the Chiba Lotte Marines from the Japanese Pro League.

In the evening, almost 16.000 spectators saw host Japan beat China 18-2 in a game that lasted eight innings because of the mercy rule.
Initially, the game was tied 2-2 after four innings. Trailing, 2-0, China tied the score when catcher Wang Wei hit a 2-run homerun in the fourth inning.
But Japan regained the lead in the fifth on back-to-back homeruns by Tsuyoshi Nishioka (3-run) and Kosuke Fukudome. In the seventh, Hitoshi Tamura added a 2-run homerun.
Leading 11-2, Japan rallied for seven more runs in the eighth inning to reach a 10-run difference. Japan collected 15 hits in the game.
(March 3)

Rooi, Coenraad cut from Dutch roster
ORLANDO, Florida (USA) - Infielder Vince Rooi and RHP Forstin Coenraad have been cut from the current 32-man roster of the Dutch National Baseball Team to reduce the roster to the required 30 players for the World Baseball Classic.

Dutch Manager Robert Eenhoorn planned to have a trainingcamp and exhibition series in Florida with 34 players, but that was reduced to 33 when Pitcher Simon Pantophlet couldn't come from St. Martin due to visa-problems.
On Wednesday, it was announced that Outfielder Wladimir Balentien would miss the WBC, due to a hamstring-injury, reducing the roster to 32 players.
It was stated in a press release that Coenraad will remain with the squad as a possible replacement for RHP Calvin Maduro, who has a slight shoulder-injury. Rooi remains in Florida and will prepare for the upcoming season, as he will play in the Pittsburgh Pirates-organization.
However, the deadline to file the official 30-man roster, and to make an eventual roster change, is Friday, March 3 at noon (Eastern Time) (18:00 hr Dutch time). Thereafter, a roster becomes official, including eventual injured players. Rosters can only be changed before the start of the next round, being the Second Round or the Final Round.
When the deadline approached, no changes were made on the Dutch roster, meaning Maduro remained with the squad. Coenraad will travel with the team to Puerto Rico on Monday-morning, then returns home from San Juan. Rooi remains in Florida to prepare for the upcoming season, as he will play for the first time this year in the Pittsburgh Pirates-organization. The previous seven years Rooi played in the organization of the Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals.

The Dutch team will close its exhibition series next Sunday with a game against a split squad of the Major League Atlanta Braves, before heading to Puerto Rico on Monday-morning for the First Round of the World Baseball Classic. The Dutch team plays its first game on Wednesday against Puerto Rico, followed by Cuba and Panama the days thereafter.
(March 3)

Dutch named to officiate in WBC
AMSTERDAM (Neth.) - Two Dutch umpires and a commissioner have been named to officiate games during the first edition of the World Baseball Classic.
Senior international umpire Fred van Groningen Schinkel will work games in Pool D (Round One), which will be played on the Disney Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida (USA), while umpire Edwin van den Berk has been named a back-up umpire for the tournament.
Jan Esselman, Chairman of the Technical Committee of the European Baseball Confederation (CEB) and member of the Technical Committee of the International BAseball Federation (IBAF), has been named Technical Commissioner for Round Two, which will be played in Anaheim, California (USA).
Besides Van Groningen Schinkel, there will be one other European umpire, as Italian Pierfranco Leone will be active in games played in Pool C (Round One) in Puerto Rico, which is the 'Dutch' Pool.
(March 3)

Major League-Teams to play WBC-teams
FLORIDA/ARIZONA (USA) - This weekend, eleven Major League-teams will play exhibition games against eleven national team which are participating in the inaugural World Baseball Classic (WBC).
With the excemption of Cuba, all countries that open play in Pools B, C and D on Tuesday in Florida, Arizona and Puerto Rico will play an exhibition game against a Major League-team. These games are the last preparations for those teams, before the WBC opens. Pool A already is underway in Japan and ends on Sunday. The two winners of that Pool will travel to the USA for Round Two. Before that, they both will play two exhibition games against a total of four Major League-clubs.

Most games are played by split squad of the Major League-teams, meaning that the organization has playing two teams on that specific day.
Team Canada was the first team to play a game against a Major League-team, being their 'countrymen' of the Toronto Blue Jays, the lone Canadian Major League-club.
At it Spring Training-complex in Dunedin (Florida), the Blue Jays on Friday won 9-4 from Canada, which used six pitchers in the game. Trailing 9-0, Canada scored three runs in the sixth, then added a run in the eighth inning. Both teams had 10 basehits.

Other Major League-WBC combinations this weekend are:
Washington Nationals vs. Panama
Philadelphia Phillies vs. Venezuela
Detroit Tigers vs. Italy
Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Mexico
Oakland Athletics vs. South Africa

Atlanta Braves vs. Netherlands
Houston Astros vs. Dominican Republic
New York Mets vs. Puerto Rico
Boston Red Sox vs. Australia
San Francisco Giants vs. USA

Next week, the two Asian qualifiers will play against the Kansas City Royals, Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and San Diego Padres.
(March 4)

Japan, Korea clinch spot in Round Two WBC
TOKYO (Japan) - Japan and Korea became the first two teams to clinch a spot in Round Two of the World Baseball Classic on Friday.
Japan again had a big victory, winning 14-3 vs. Chinese Taipei to secure a spot in Round Two. Because of this win and by winning themselves 10-1 vs. China, Korea also will play in the next round. Japan and Korea will meet each other on Sunday in the closing games of Pool A. After that, the teams will travel to Anaheim (California) on Monday to play in the second round. There, they will meet the two best teams of Pool B in which USA, Canada, Mexico and South Africa are playing. These teams open their pool next Tuesday in Arizona, where the games will be played in Phoenix and Scottsdale.

The run-difference again was (more than) ten runs in Japan's favor, meaning it ended before nine innings were played. In the opener, they played eight innings in an 18-2 win vs. China, now they played seven innings for its win against the team from Taipei. Before 31.000 spectators, Japan took the lead in the first inning on a 3-run homerun by Hitoshi Tamura and went en route to another big win.
The Korean squad again had good pitching, but was helped offensively by Seung-Yeop Lee, who went 4-for-4, including two homeruns and had five RBI's. On the downside, the Koreans learn they will play the remainder of the tournament without powerhitting third baseman Dong-Jo Kim, who fractured a bone in his left shoulder after a sliding in the opening game.
(March 4)

WBC-teams surprise vs. Major Leaguers
CLEARWATER-LAKELAND-VIERA, Florida / PHOENIX-TUCSON, Arizona (USA) - The five games played on Saturday between Major League split squads and national team that participated in the World Baseball Classic all had surprising line scores. In the end, two national teams left the field as the winning team.
The games are the last exhibition games played by the national teams before they open play in their respective pools next week. On Sunday, five more games are scheduled.

At Clearwater (Florida), Venezuela (Pool D) shutout the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0.
The lone run of the game was scored in the first inning when Carlos Guillen scored on a single by Miguel Cabrera.
The all-professional Venezuelan team also outhit the Phils, 8-5.

At Lakeland (Florida), Italy (Pool D) took a 4-0 lead in the fifth inning vs. the Detroit Tigers and were leading 5-1 in the sixth.
But in the home part of that at bat, the Tigers rallied for four runs to tie the score, 5-5. The score remained tied until the Tigers decided the game with a run in the home ninth and won (only) 6-5.
Vince Sinisi homered for Italy. He is one of 17 players on the Italian roster who is born in the USA. Veteran Major Leaguer Mike Piazza (San Diego Padres) also is on the Italian squad.

At Viera (Florida), Panama (Pool C) took a 1-0 lead in the second inning, but trailed 4-2 after four innings against the Washington Nationals, after Larry Broadway had hit a 3-run homerun in the fourth.
But then, in the fifth inning, Panama scored four runs to take a 6-4 lead, before the Nationals came alongside in their fifth at bat. Washington re-took the lead with a 4-run eighth, when Frank Diaz also hit a 3-run homer, after which Panama could score only one more run and lost 10-7.
Carlos Lee, Sherman Obando and Manuel O. Rodriguez all homered for Panama, which plays in the Dutch pool in Puerto Rico.

At Phoenix (Arizona), it was South Africa (Pool B) that opened the score against the Oakland Athletics and were leading 1-0 after one inning.
That didn't last long, as the A's scored three runs in the third to take over the lead. After that, Oakland added four runs in the fourth and six in the sixth and went on to win 13-1.

At Tucson (Arizona), Mexico (Pool B) defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks, 6-1.
The Mexicans, who will open its Pool next Tuesday vs. Team USA, scored a run in the third and sixth inning, then gave up a run to the Diamondbacks in the home sixth. But in the eighth inning, Mexico added four runs. Mexico collected 11 basehits, including a homerun by Luis Garcia.
(March 4)

Dutch team to face John Smoltz
ORLANDO, Florida (USA) - The Dutch National Team will close its exhibition series in Florida on Sunday-afternoon with a game against a Major League-split squad of the Atlanta Braves. The game will be played at Disney's Wide World of Sports-complex, the Spring Training home of the Braves in Lake Buena Vista.
The Dutch roster was completed Friday with the three players who are on Major League-rosters, including Andruw Jones. The Dutch team traveled from Bradenton to Orlando on Thursday-evening, then worked out on Friday on one of the fields of Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, while the Atlanta Braves were playing an exhibition game vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers on the main field. Jones started for the Braves in centerfield, went 0-for-2 with a walk and left after six innings. While the game continued, Jones joined the Dutch team and took batting practice with his new teammates.
The Braves were trailing 7-4 when the bottom of the ninth started, but after scoring a run, Atlanta won 8-7 on a 0-out, 3-run homerun by catching prospect Jarrod Saltalamacchia.
On Monday-morning, the Dutch team will fly to Puerto Rico, where they will play Round One of the World Baseball Classic.

In this last exhibition game, the Dutch batters, including Braves' centerfielder Andruw Jones, will face veteran righthanded pitcher John Smoltz, who will make his first start of the season.
Smoltz is playing in the Majors since 1988 and is preparing for his 18th season in the big league. He played his entire career with the Braves, but missed the 2000 season with an injury.
Since 1988, Smoltz appeared in 635 games. The righthander has won 177 games in his career and struckout 2567 batters. Last season, he was 14-7 with 169 strikeouts. Smoltz is scheduled to throw the first two innings. The probable starter for the Dutch team is righthander Calvin Maduro, who played professionally in the New York Yankees-organization last season.
(March 4)

Korea unbeaten winner Pool A
TOKYO (Japan) - Korea became the unbeaten winner of Pool A of the World Baseball Classic with a surprise 3-2 victory vs. favorite Japan on Sunday. Chinese Taipei registered its first win of the tournament by winning 12-3 vs. China, which remained winless (as expected).

Japan was leading 2-1 in the eighth inning when Seung-Yeop Lee hit a 2-run homerun off pitcher Hitoshi Ishii to give Korea a 3-2 lead. This was Lee's third homerun in two days.
Major League-pitcher Chan-Ho Park pitched the ninth inning for the Korean squad and earned his second save.
More than 40.000 spectators, including Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito and his wife.

Chinese Taipei outhit China 15-8, including a grand slam homerun by Yung-Chi Chen in the third inning.
(March 5)

Dutch team finish exhibition series with loss
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (USA) - The Netherlands National Team closed its 4-game exhibiton series on Sunday-afternoon with a 4-0 loss against a Major League split squad of the Atlanta Braves.
The game was the last in its preparations for the World Baseball Classic. On Monday-morning, the team will travel to San Juan (Puerto Rico) where Pool C will be played.

Dutch starter Calvin Maduro gave up two quick runs in the first inning when the Braves had two basehits, but the Dutch defense also committed two errors.
Atlanta doubled its lead in the third inning when David Kelton hit a homerun off of Diegomar Markwell, who took over for Maduro in this at bat.
After going hitless in five innings, the Dutch offense produced its first two basehits in the sixth inning, which were the be the lone Dutch basehits in the game.
Markwell was followed by Jair Jurrjens, Shairon Martis, Gregory Gustina and Dave Draijer.
Sean White took over for Smoltz in the third inning and was relieved by Kevin Barry in the fifth.

In this game, Major Leaguer Andruw Jones made his Dutch team-debut. The centerfielder, who plays since 1996 for the Atlanta Braves, batted fourth in the starting line-up for Manager Robert Eenhoorn. In his first two at bats, he grounded out to third base.
Complete Game Recap, Play-by-Play & Box Score

(March 5)

Three WBC-teams defeat Major Leaguers
KISSIMMEE-PORT ST. LUCIE-FORT MYERS-LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida / SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (USA) - On Sunday, five World Baseball Classic-teams played a game against a Major League-squad and three of them won their game.

At Kissimmee (Florida), the Dominican Republic (Pool D) won 12-8 vs. the Houston Astros.
The Dominicans had 16 basehits, including two by Juan Brito, Juan Encarnarcion and Albert Pujols. David 'Big Papi' Ortiz and Ronnie Belliard both hit solo-homeruns for the Dominican squad.

At Port St. Lucie, Puerto Rico broke a 1-1 tie in the fifth inning by scoring twice and went on to win 6-1 against the New York Mets.
Next Wednesday, Puerto Rico is the first opponent for The Netherlands in Pool C.

At Fort Myers (Florida), Australia (Pool D) was shutout 3-0 by the Boston Red Sox in a game that lasted only seven innings.
Kevin Youkilis homered for the Bosox.

At Scottsdale (Arizona), USA (Pool B) won 11-7 vs. the San Francisco Giants.
The American team scored six runs in the third, including two on a homerun by Chipper Jones, but then the Giants answered with a 4-run rally. Trailing 7-5, the Giants tied the score with two runs in the seventh inning.
Team USA regained the lead in the eighth when Chase Utley hit a 2-run homerun. The player from the Philadelphia Phillies went 4-for-4, scored twice and had three RBI's. In the ninth, two more runs were scored to make it 11-7.
Alex Rodriguez and Jason Varitek both had two hits for Team USA.

At Lake Buena Vista (Florida), the Atlanta Braves shutout The Netherlands (Pool C), 4-0.
more details of this game
(March 5)

Dutch Team arrives in Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) - The Dutch National Team arrived in the Puerto Rican capitol of San Juan on Monday-afternoon where it will play the next three games in Round One of the World Baseball Classic.

After arriving at the international airport in San Juan, the team said goodbye to pitcher Forstin Coenraad, who last week was one of two players being cut from the WBC-roster. Coenraad then had to take place in a police bus, which he did with a brought smile. This unusual transportation brought him to another terminal for his flight back to The Netherlands.
Next, the baseball-team was driven to the hotel, under a big police-escort. The Dutch team is staying in the same hotel where the national teams of Cuba and Panama also stay.
The Dutch team is now on full strength. Since Friday, not only the three Major League-players joined the team, but also the staff was expanded. Mike Freer (trainer), Willy Jenks (equipment manager) and Glenn Rosenbaum (travel director) have been appointed by Major League Baseball as assistants for respectively Rob Tamminga, Frans Bergman and Kees Sleegers. The three all work for Major League-organizations. All teams that have Major League-affiliated players on their rosters have been appointed additional personnel in these categories.
Dutch 1B Coach Jack Hubbard now also can focus entirely on the Dutch squad. Last week, he traveled between the Dutch training camp and the Spring Training-site of the New York Yankees in nearby Tampa. Hubbard is one of the instructors in the Yankee-camp and was working on the bunting techniques with new Yankee-outfielder Johnny Damon (former Boston Red Sox, whom the Yankees recently signed.

On Tuesday-evening, the first game in Pool C will be played between host Puerto Rico and Panama. The Dutch team plays its first game on Wednesday against Puerto Rico.
On Tuesday, play also starts in Pool B and D. In Pool B (played in Phoenix, Arizona), USA will meet Mexico and Canada plays vs. South Africa.
In Pool D (played at Lake Buena Vista, Florida), the Dominican Republic opens vs. Venezuela, while Italy meets Australia.
While not confirmed, it is possible that there will be a moment of silence before these games in remembrance of Hall of Famer and former Minnesota Twins-great Kirby Puckett, who passed away on Monday-afternoon at the age of almost 45 year old.
(March 6)

Dominicans win Pool D-opener; Van Groningen Schinkel ump
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (USA) - The Dominican Republic opened Pool D of the World Baseball Classic with an 11-5 victory vs. Venezuela in an exciting game on Tuesday-afternoon.
For the more than 10.000 mostly Latin-American spectators this was what they called 'the game of the century' as match-ups between these two countries always have been big, such as when their respective champions meet in the annual Caribbean World Series.
Dutch veteran umpire Fred van Groningen Schinkel was part of this game, as he officiates at third base. In the seventh inning, he was involved in an interesting and very crucial play.

...Fred van Groningen Schinkel...
(Photo: Marco Stoovelaar)
It was a game between great hitters and they showed it all the way. David 'Big Papi' Ortiz showed his strenghth by hitting a lead-off homerun in the second inning in his first at bat in the game to give the Dominicans an 1-0 lead. With two outs, Juan Encarnarcion (walk) made it 2-0 by scoring on an error.
Venezuela came back with a run in the fourth. With two outs, Magglio Ordo˝ez singled and scored on a single by Edgardo Alfonso.
In the fifth, the Dominicans rallied for four runs to make it 6-1, highlighted by a 3-run homerun by Adrian Beltre.
In the home fifth, Venezuela did something back when Miguel Cabrera hit a 2-run homerun, then made it 6-4 in the next at bat when Edgardo Alfonso also homered.

Trailing 6-4 in the home seventh, Omar Vizquel led off with a double. With two outs and after a pitching change, Miguel Cabrera hammered the ball into left field which appeared to become a homerun, but the ball hit the top of the wall and came back into the field. While Cabrera and his fellow-Venezuelans already were celebrating, 3B umpire Fred van Groningen Schinkel didn't gave the homerun-signal, but instead made it clear the ball came back from the wall into the field and remained in play, which was the only correct call. Venezuelan Manager Luis Sojo (the former New York Yankee) came out to argue with Van Groningen Schinkel, but in his own characteristic and calm way, the Dutch umpire explained what he had seen. Van Groningen Schinkel was joined by his three American colleagues and it was agreed that it was no homerun. Cabrera had to settle with a homerun, as he was unable to advance beyond second base on the throw back to the infield. On the double, Vizquel scored and made it 6-5. A homerun would have tied the score!
The Dominicans broke the game wide open in the ninth inning, scoring five runs and making it 11-5. David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre both hit 2-run homeruns (the second for each in the game) in this inning.
(March 7)

Team USA shuts out Mexico
PHOENIX, Arizona (USA) - Team USA started the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday-afternoon with a small 2-0 shutout vs. Mexico in Pool B.

The pitchers dominated in this game, there were not that much basehits. The USA had six, Mexico only three. In the first six Mexican innings, the minimum of 18 batters appeared in the batter's box and only two of them reached base.
In the first inning, Karim Garcia led off with a single, but then Jorge Cantu grounded in a double play. In the second inning, Luis A. Garcia reached base on a throwing error by short stop Derek Jeter with one out, but then Adrian Gonzalez also grounded into a double play. With this double play, 13 consecutive batter were retired in a row, before Karim Garcia singled to lead off the seventh inning. But again a double play followed. This time, however, the Mexicans got an extra batter in the inning, as Vinny Castillo followed with a single, but then Erubiel Durazo grounded into a force play. In the eighth inning, also four players batted, but in the ninth, the side was retired again in a row.

The Americans also didn't reach base that much. In the third, they got their first two hits, but both batters stranded on base. In the fourth, the USA took a 1-0 lead when Derrek Lee homered with two outs.
Johnny Damon tripled with two outs in the fifth, but also was left behind.
Finally, an additional run was scored in the seventh inning when Chipper Jones, who had just entered the game, hit a homerun on the first pitch he saw.
(March 7)

Big win Italy; small win Puerto Rico; tough win Canada
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Florida (USA) / SAN JUAN (Puerto Rico) / SCOTTSDALE, Arizona (USA) - Italy registered a big 10-0 shutout victory vs. Australia in Pool D on Tuesday, while Puerto Rico won only 2-1 against Panama in Pool C. In Pool B, Canada had its hand full with South Africa, but won 11-8, which was only accomplished in the ninth inning!

At Lake Buena Vista, Italy needed only seven innings to defeat Australia in an unexpected highscoring game. Italy started with an all-professional starting line-up, including 37-year old San Diego Padres-catcher Mike Piazza, who is the all-time Major League-leader with 376 homeruns hit by a catcher. He caught Major League-prospect pitcher Jason Grilli, who did an outstanding job. He pitched 4 2/3 inning, had a great breaking pitch, struckout seven batters and gave up only one hit (a double), which came after he had retired the first ten batters in a row. The double, hit by Trent Durrington, bot only was Australia's lone hit, but also the only time the team reached base! Italian veteran national team-pitcher Riccardo De Santis relieved Grilli and retired all seven batters he faced. Another (real) Italian international experienced player, Claudio Liverziani played the seventh inning in leftfield. All other players were born in the USA and are playing in the minor league.
Offensively, Italy collected 12 basehits, including seven extra-basehits. After scoring three runs in the second inning, highlighted by a 2-run double by Frank Menechino, Italy added a run in the third on an RBI-triple by Valentino Pascucci that scored Mike Piazza, who led off the inning with a double. Another run was scored in the fourth inning, then Mark Saccomanno hit a 2-run homerun in the fifth to make it 7-0. In the next at bat, Frank Catalanotto led off with a triple and scored on an one-out homerun by Vince Sinisi. In the seventh inning, Italy reached the 10-run difference when Dustin Delucchi led off with a single and scored on a 2-out double by Tom Gregorio. On the WBC, Italy is not being led by longtime Manager Giampiero Faraone, but instead by Matt Galante, who is a special advisor in the Houston Astros-organization.

At San Juan, Puerto Rico trailed 1-0 vs. Panama after four innings, then scored twice in the fifth and won only 2-1. Puerto Rico will meet The Netherlands on Wednesday. Panama opened the score in the fourth inning when they got the bases loaded with no outs on a single by Carlos Lee and walks for Sherman Obando and Ruben Rivera. Lee then scored on a walk for Carlos Ruiz, but then a flyout and a double play ended the inning.
Puerto Rico, which has 27 Major Leaguers on its roster, scored twice in the home fifth. Alex Rios led off with a homerun to tie the score, then Alex Cintron followed with a single. He was bunted to second base and scored the go-ahead run on a single by Bernie Williams. And that was all for this game, in which more runs and basehits were expected, but both teams had only five basehits.

At Scottsdale, Canada got a tough opponent in South Africa and trailed 4-3 after five innings, lost a 7-4 lead, but eventually won 11-8.
In the top fifth, Canada took a 3-0 lead, highlighted by a 2-run double by Matt Stairs, but in the home fifth, South Africa answered with four runs. With the bases loaded, Brett Willemburg hit a 3-run double, then scored himself when Nicholas Dempsey reached on an error.
In the seventh, Canada re-took the lead with a 4-run rally which started with back-to-back doubles by Jason Bay and Justin Morneau. With one out, Corey Koskie hit a 2-run homerun, followed by a double by Pete Laforest, who went on to score on two wild pitches.
South Africa scored a run in the home seventh on a double by Paul Bell, who then added a 3-run double in the eighth to give South Africa an 8-7 lead. However, Canada not only came alongside in the ninth, but rallied for four runs to take a definitive lead. Ryan Radmanovich led off with a triple and scored when Adam Stern followed with a double. Moments later, Stern scored on a throwing error to make it 9-8. A wild pitch and an RBI-double by Sebastien Boucher accounted for the other runs to make it 11-8.
(March 7)

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Last Update: March 8, 2006
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