By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Pelota Cubana reporter Yusseff Diaz reported that Cuba will have nine preparation games against Chinese Professional Baseball League teams in Taiwan and Nippon Professional Baseball league teams in Japan before their first game against the Netherlands in Pool A of the World Baseball Classic on March 8.
Cuba manager Armando Johnson will have his work cut out for him during that time span as he evaluates his lineup before the first game of the World Baseball Classic. Cuba pitching coach Pedro Lazo will weigh his options with his starting pitching rotation and key bullpen pitchers during the warmup games. The remainder of the Cuba coaching staff are bench coach German Mesa, hitting coach Orestes Kindelan Olivares, bullpen coach Jose Elosegui Sanchez, first base coach Armando Ferrer, and third base coach Rafael Munoz.
Cuba will face four NPB teams, the Nippon Ham-Fighters, Chunichi Dragons, Yomiuri Giants, and Fukouka Softbank Hawks, as well as CPBL teams from February 26-28 and March 5-6, including games against CPBL expansion team Taiwan Steel Group (TSG) Hawks, before play begins in Pool A at Taichung Intercontinental Stadium.
To prepare for the Caribbean Series, Agricultores will play two exhibition games against the Cuba National Team at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba on Sunday, January 29 and Monday, January 30 before flying out to Caracas, Venezuela for the Caribbean Series.
Agricultores manager Carlos Marti will have certain structures to go over against his pitching staff and offense prior to the Caribbean Series. Osvaldo Abreu, who hit the game winning single in Game 7 in the Cuban Elite League championship series, and reinforcement player Raico Santos, who played with Mayos de Navojoa during winter ball in Mexico will be among those getting some at-bats at bats prior to the Caribbean Series. Both games will start at 1:30 p.m. EST.
The Caribbean Series will start for Cuba on Thursday, February 2 against Curacao at 10:30 a.m. at Estadio Forum La Guaira.