Higinio Velez, technical director. (Photo: I. Francisco)
Havana, Feb 10 (Prensa Latina) The 45th Cuban National Baseball Series will stop from February 13 to March 23, so that players who go on trials to pick the team for the World Baseball Classic (WBC) are put in the best shape possible.
Higinio Velez, technical director of the players aspiring to make the national selection, said the WBC would be pretty tough but Cuba will compete with a very well trained and skilled team.
Training sessions will open on February 15, seeking stabilization and endurance of the players´ form, as we are running out of time. We only have 20 days, asserted Velez.
The manager of various teams that have won World and Olympic gold medals stated the sixty players who will be on trials have the same possibilities to make the national selection.
He asserted he would keep applying the same philosophy of past years: pitching, defense and speed on bases combined with offensive, base stealing and hit-and-run, always trying to reach an extra base.
Players will train divided in two groups, one at the Latin American Stadium and the other at the Changa Mederos Stadium.
On technical aspects of the WBC, Cuban National Baseball Federation Chief Carlos Rodriguez said Rawling will be the ball used in the tournament and players will be provided with special spikes because games will be held on synthetic fields.
Rodriguez said pitchers will only be allowed throwing 65 pitches in the classification, 80 pitches in the semi-final and 95 in the final.
Hurlers throwing more than 50 pitches can only climb the mount four days after their last appearance.
The rule of knockout (ten-run margin) in seven innings and super-knockout (15-run margin) in five innings will also be applied.
Sixteen nations will choose their best players to compete at the 2006 WBC organized by the Major League and the MLB Players Association. They will be divided in four pools (A, B, C and D), with venues in Puerto Rico, Japan and the US cities of Orlando and Phoenix.
It is considered to be the toughest baseball tournament ever organized, with participation of the best professional players from powerhouses US, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Venezuela, Panama and Japan, among others.
However, a dozen of Cuban Olympic and World baseball champs will ensure players selected from the 60 pack to be ready to fight for the first positions.
Although the national baseball series will stop from February 13 on, local players will remain hotels to hold teaching sessions in the morning and training in the afternoon.
They will be divided in three groups to hold warm-ups to keep up their shape until the series are resumed.