By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
World Baseball Network spoke with Federashon Beisbol Korsou (FEBEKO) president Jedrek Magdalena via WhatsApp and confirmed Curacao’s coaching staff for the 2023 Caribbean Series.
Former Major League great and Curacao native Andruw Jones and former New York Yankees player and current Colorado Rockies hitting coach Hensley ‘Bam Bam’ Meulens will join the staff for Curacao in their first appearance in the Caribbean Series.
Curacao, coming off a third place finish at the 2022 Caribbean Cup where they beat host nation Bahamas in the consolation game, will bring the same coaching staff with them for Caribbean Series. Hainley Statia will again manage Curacao, and he’ll be alongside pitching coach Dennis Neuman, first base coach Quincy Martina, third base coach Gionelo Jansen, bench coach Carlos Pineda, hitting coach Yurendell de Caste and bullpen coach Gustavo de Jongh for the Caribbean Series.
This tournament does not earn World Baseball Softball Confederation ranking points, as the Caribbean Series is operated by the Caribbean Professional Baseball Confederation and includes professional teams representing winter leagues around the Caribbean. Curacao was invited to send a team of professionals who play in various leagues around the world and were either born or have residency in Curacao.
Curacao is now 33 in the new WBSC rankings and and has qualified for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games in El Salvador, placing second in the Honkbalweek Haarlem 2022 where they lost in Rotterdam to the Netherlands, and winning the 2021 Caribbean Cup on home soil, beating powerhouse Cuba.
Meulens is in familiar territory. His international coaching and playing experience includes coaching the Netherlands in the 2004 Summer Olympics and the 2009 World Baseball Classic, as well as managing the 2013 World Baseball Classic team for the Netherlands. Muelens has also played on the international stage with the Netherlands in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia, during the 2001 Baseball World Cup in Taichung, Taiwan, and the 2022 Intercontinental Cup in Havana, Cuba.
Jones, from the capital of Willemstad, had a long major league career, debuting Atlanta during August of the 1996 season. A five-time All-Star and 10-time Gold Glove award winner, Jones was also an All-Star in Japan during the 2013 season and Japan Series champion with the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles where he played two seasons. During Jones’s two seasons with Rakuten, he hit 50 home runs and drove in 165 runs in 281 games.
Curacao will start their first game of the Caribbean Series against Cuba at 10:30 a.m. playing at Estadio Forum La Guaira. The 2023 Caribbean Series will be played Estadio Forum La Guaira and Estadio De La Rinconada from February 2-10 and will be streamed on ESPN Deportes and ESPN3.
Correction: This article previously stated that Curacao was invited to send their national team. It has been corrected to reflect that the Curacao team at the 2023 Caribbean Series will be comprised of professional players either born or with residency in Curacao.