Mexico continues Classic run vs. Korea
Manager Castilla feels confident in club entering Round 2
By Jesse Sanchez / MLB.com
Sunday's starter, Oliver Perez, plays catch during Team Mexico's workout on Saturday. (K.C. Alfred/AP)
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SAN DIEGO -- Mexico manager Vinny Castilla knows what he has on his club, and he believes it's good enough to win this year's World Baseball Classic.
"We have great players that know how to play the game," Castilla said. "We have great pitching, and like I said before, this series is going to be a lot of pitching and defense, and we have guys that can hit the ball out of the ballpark, too."
Castilla will get to test his theory on Sunday night, when Mexico takes on Korea in the squad's first game in Round 2 of the World Baseball Classic at PETCO Park. Mexico will send Oliver Perez to the mound. Korea will start left-hander Hyun Jin Ryu.
"I don't know much about Korea and Japan. I know a few of their players, but, overall, I don't know them as a whole team," first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "I think we have to approach every game like it's the best team out there and play our best."
Mexico was defeated, 17-7, by Australia in its first game of Round 1 last week in Mexico City. The team rebounded with a 14-3 victory against South Africa and a 16-1 win against Australia in the rematch. Cuba defeated Mexico, 16-4, in the final game of Round 1 play.
Additionally, Mexico (2-2) outscored opponents, 41-37, in four games in Mexico City. The expansive dimensions at PETCO Park will curtail high-scoring games, Gonzalez said.
"We played a lot of 15-, 16-, 17-, 18-run games, where here it's going to be five-, six-, seven-run games," he said. "Not giving up walks is going to be very important here, being aggressive from the pitchers' stand point and hitters not trying to hit home runs, not trying to hit fly balls. [We'll] try to hit ground balls and line drives. I think this park benefits us more than the Mexico stadium did."
Mexico does not have a history of success against Korea. In the 2006 Classic, Korea topped Mexico, 2-1. Last year, Korea beat Mexico, 6-1, in pre-Olympic action.
"You're not playing for payback or to trying to get back at them," Gonzalez said. "I think you are playing for the name across your chest, and for our country, and we've got to go out there and win so we can make Mexico proud."