Venezuela to pick from 35-player pool
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Former Major Leaguer Luis Sojo will manage the Venezuelan entry in the World Baseball Classic. (Fernando Llano/AP)
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Team Venezuela continues to take shape.
On Thursday, Humberto Oropeza, Committee Director for the Venezuelan Baseball Federation, announced a group of 35 players from which the final 30-man Venezuelan team roster for the World Baseball Classic will be chosen.
Venezuelan team manager Luis Sojo and his coaches will make the decision on the final 30-man roster before the tournament deadline on March 2.
Among the 16 pitchers listed among the 35 are Johan Santana, Freddy Garcia, Francisco Rodriguez, Gustavo Chacin, Carlos Zambrano and Victor Zambrano. The list includes eight infielders, highlighted by Alex Gonzalez, Carlos Guillen, Omar Vizquel along with Miguel Cabrera, and a cast of seven outfielders featuring such players as Magglio Ordonez, Melvin Mora, Endy Chavez and Bob Abreu.
The four candidates for catchers listed Thursday were Ramon Hernandez, Henry Blanco, Victor Martinez and Alex Delgado.
Last week, 25 players from the provisional 60-man roster practiced for three days in Venezuela in front of daily crowds of approximately 8,000 fans. Also last week, Venezuela won the Caribbean Series title for the first time since 1989.
"I truly believe that winning the Caribbean title has a great effect on the World Classic because it will make us the favorites," Guillen said after the Caribbean Series. "If we also win the Classic there will be no doubt of who is the best team in the world."
"These guys enjoy the competition," Sojo said last week. "They are baseball players -- that's what they do. Because they are representing the country makes it more special. I expect good things. There is a lot of pride for Venezuela."