Snell faces Venezuela, tight pitch count

Puerto Rico starters restricted by own team rules more than Classic's

Ian Snell will be restricted to a tighter pitch count than the Classic rules dictate on Monday. (AP)

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MIAMI -- By rule, starting pitchers in the second round of the World Baseball Classic are limited to no more than 85 pitches.

Puerto Rico's team is going with fewer than that.

Because their starters aren't built up enough to throw 85 pitches, manager Jose Oquendo said on Sunday his pitchers are looking at a high of 75.

That's the figure Ian Snell will be held to on Monday night when Puerto Rico faces Venezuela at Dolphin Stadium.

"In our case, our pitch count is not the same as the tournament is," Oquendo said. "Our guys are not ready to throw 85 pitches, so they will be below that."

In beating Team USA, 11-1, on Saturday night, Javier Vazquez threw 67 pitches through five innings.

Snell of the Pirates will be in a similar situation to Vazquez.

"Our pitch limit is 75, and Javy threw 67," Oquendo said. "We weren't going to send him back out. He did a good job for us.

"[Snell] is similar to Javy. He will not throw 85. He will be at 75. If he gives us five strong innings, then we'll see where his pitch count is and we'll make a decision."

Vazquez was brilliant in shutting down Team USA, allowing one run on four hits with no walks and two strikeouts.

Because Puerto Rico won by the 10-run mercy rule, the game ended in the bottom of the seventh inning. Puerto Rico used three relievers: Nelson Figueroa, Javier Lopez and Saul Rivera.

Off on Sunday, Puerto Rico's pitching should be well rested to take on a powerful Venezuelan lineup.

Puerto Rico improved to 4-0 in the Classic after winning its first game in round two.

A highly motivated club, Puerto Rico had an easy workout on Sunday at Dolphin Stadium. Players were in shorts as they went through hitting and fielding drills.

"They are proud players," Oquendo said. "They love the competition and they want to represent their country with pride. It shows on the field. Some guys are playing at the high level that they show during the regular season. That's a testament to what they're playing for."

Puerto Rico has a powerful lineup that includes Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado, Alex Rios, Ivan Rodriguez, Geovany Soto and Felipe Lopez.

"Some of the guys started Spring Training early enough to be ready for this tournament," Oquendo said. "The guys are excited and they know what they're playing for. It's an aggressive club that we've got, and things have been paying off."

Venezuela, too, has its share of MLB stars, including Miguel Cabrera, Bobby Abreu, Magglio Ordonez and Ramon Hernandez.

"It's going to be a good match, a good competition," Oquendo said. "Venezuela is an exciting team. They represent their country with pride. It's going to be a good match."

Joe Frisaro is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.