Yariel Rodriguez Will Start World Baseball Classic Opener For Cuba

By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network

Yariel Rodriguez was announced by the Federacion Cubana De Beisbol as the starting pitcher for the first game of the World Baseball Classic in Pool A at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium against the Netherlands on March 7. 

Manager Armando Johnson has been evaluating his options since Cuba arrived in Japan a few weeks ago, playing against NPB teams during their spring training along with playing facing Chinese Professional Baseball League team from Taiwan.

This is the first time that Cuba will have players from Major League Baseball on its roster at the World Baseball Classic, though there is very little MLB experience on the pitching staff.  

Cuba pitching coach Pedro Lazo will look to Elian Leyva and Roenis Elias as key components of the Cuba pitching staff. Cuba is ranked eighth in the World Baseball rankings compiled by the World Baseball Softball Confederation and will have to get through a difficult pool to advance to Tokyo for the quarterfinals.  

Rodriguez pitched last year in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball for the Chunichi Dragons, where he was 6-2 with a 1.15 ERA in 56 games, striking out 60 batters. Cuba can regain its baseball dominance with the talent they brought to this year’s World Baseball Classic with players from the international leagues, major league baseball, high affiliate players from major league organizations in the minors, and the elite league from this past winter along with the Serie Nacional circuit that is now their main long term league.  

Cuba’s went 2-1 in the first round of pool play in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, before going winless in the second round of pool play, losing to Israel, Japan and the Netherlands.

Panama, host nation Chinese Taipei, and Italy are the other teams in Pool A of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. Cuba’s opening game against the Netherlands will be televised on March 7 at 11 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Translate »