Japan's WBC squad stacked with newbies
(Dec. 6, 2012)ã€€The Yomiuri Shimbun
Japan has been forced to take a "new" approach in its attempt to win its third consecutive World Baseball Classic title.ã€€Manager Koji Yamamoto on Tuesday announced a 34-man roster featuring just one player from the 2009 team.
Yamamoto's roster also features eight Yomiuri Giants and no major leaguers for the 2013 Classic. Players from Ichiro Suzuki to Yu Darvish took turns backing out of the WBC, leaving Yamamoto to chose from an all-domestic pool of candidates.
If he makes an appearance in a game, Giants lefty Toshiya Sugiuchi would be the only player left over from the 2009 Japan squad that defended its first WBC crown. Sugiuchi was also on the team that won the inaugural tournament in 2006.
Yamamoto said Japan has a wealth of talent."We hope to show the strength of Japanese baseball and battle hard," he told The Yomiuri Shimbun.
Yomiuri catcher Shinnosuke Abe, coming off his Central League MVP season, headlines the roster, which must be at 28 for the March 2 Group A opener against Brazil.
Abe, Hisayoshi Chono, Shuichi Murata and Hayato Sakamoto are among the position players, while Hirokazu Sawamura, Tetsuya Utsumi and Tetsuya Yamaguchi join Sugiuchi on the pitching staff.
The roster includes six Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, including Nobuhiro Matsuda, Yuichi Honda, Seiichi Uchikawa and pitchers Masahiko Morifuku, Kenji Otonari along with Sawamura Award-winning starter Tadashi Settsu.
The pitching staff includes 2011 Sawamura Award-winning right-hander Masahiro Tanaka of the Tohoku Rakuten Eagles as well as Hiroshima Carp ace Kenta Maeda, who won the award in 2010.
For the 34-man roster with background, visit the following: