Thursday, December 29, 2005

Venezuela Proposes Hosting Part of World Baseball Classic

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports

Dec. 28, 2005

CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuela is proposing that part of next year's World Baseball Classic be played in this baseball-crazed South American nation rather than Puerto Rico so that Cuba is not excluded from the tournament.

Officials said Wednesday that Venezuela would offer to host several games, which would open the way for communist-led Cuba to participate in the first World Cup-style baseball tournament. Cuba is banned from playing on U.S. soil.

"We hope that the United States' government changes its position, but if not, we propose that Group C play in Caracas," said Edwin Zerpa, president of the government-run Venezuelan Baseball Federation. "We don't approve of Cuba's exclusion."

Only the teams in Group C -- Olympic champion Cuba, Puerto Rico, the Netherlands and Panama -- would be invited to play in Venezuela, and the final would be played in Canada, Zerpa told the Associated Press.

The World Baseball Classic will include 16 teams and run March 3-20 in the United States, Puerto Rico and Japan.

Venezuela, which plans to field hitters such as MLB all-stars Miguel Cabrera of the Florida Marlins and Bobby Abreu of the Philadelphia Phillies, is considered among the top teams for the tournament.

Johan Santana of the Minnesota Twins and Freddy Garcia of the White Sox are likely to pitch for Venezuela, which will be managed by New York Yankees third-base coach Luis Sojo.

Venezuela will be playing in the first round in Florida, with Australia, Italy and the Dominican Republic.

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2004-2005, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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