By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Venezuela is gearing up for their first game Pool D of the 2023 World Baseball Classic against the Dominican Republic at Loan Depot Park in Miami.
The game, on Saturday night at 7 p.m. EST, will be televised on Fox Sports 1. Venezuela will also go up against Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, and Israel during Pool D. The baseball-mad nation has not made it deep to the World Baseball Classic since the 2009 tournament, when they lost to Korea at Petco Park in San Diego.
Manager Omar Lopez has a great all-around lineup, and with the likes of Ronald Acuna Jr., Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, and Eduardo Escobar, Venezuela can make a big run with a stacked offense and deep the deep.
Venezuela played their first exhibition game last night at the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches, beating the Houston Astros 9-8. Cabrera had a huge two-run single, with Luis Arraez and Acuna coming around to score in the top of the fifth inning, climbing back from a three-run deficit. Ranger Suarez started yesterday’s game, throwing 1.2 innings, allowing three hits, one earned run, walking two batters, and striking out three batters.
World Baseball Network during pregame of yesterday’s action spoke with Escobar about what it was like to have Lopez at the helm for the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Escobar stated
“I played for Omar in the Venezuela Winter League for a long time, he is the best manager doing the right thing when you have a manager like Omar Lopez you can play for him every game,” Escobar said of Omar Lopez. “Omar is a very humble person and he is a good communicator to the players and the trust he has in the best nine guys on the field.”
During the 2017 World Baseball Classic, Venezuela advanced out of pool play, beating Italy 4-3 at Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico before losing all three games they played at Petco Park to the United States, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
The talent pool for Venezuela has improved over the last six years. Venezuela will have to execute with a pitching staff largely drawn from the Liga Venezolana de Beisbol Profesional winter league, but also top Major League Baseball players Martin Perez and Pablo Lopez, who have been serviceable at the major league level during their professional careers.
Venezuela will play the New York Mets at Port St. Lucie at 1:10 p.m. EST for their last exhibition game before heading down to Miami to prepare for the start of Pool D at the 2023 World Baseball Classic.