World Baseball Classic: Ohtani & Suzuki included amongst 12 players named by Samurai Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama

World Baseball Classic: Ohtani & Suzuki included amongst 12 players named by Samurai Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama
09/01/2023
The list includes two-way phenom and WBSC Premier12 hero Shohei Ohtani (pictured, left), Premier12 2019 MVP Seiya Suzuki as well as hard-throwing right-hander and WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup alum Roki Sasaki.

Samurai Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama announced during a press conference the first 12 names of the team that will participate in the 2023 World Baseball Classic. The list includes two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani and two more Major League Baseball (MLB) stars: right-handed pitcher Yu Darvish (San Diego Padres; who helped Japan win the 2009 World Baseball Classic and participated in the Beijing 2008 Olympics) and slugger Seiya Suzuki (Chicago Cubs), the WBSC Premier12 2019 MVP and a Tokyo 2020 gold medallist.

Ohtani took the floor and commented: "We are going to have a great team, and we will participate in the World Baseball Classic to win it all."

He added: "I couldn't make it in 2017, so I wanted to make this team real bad."

The list of 12 also includes Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) stars Munetaka Murakami (infielder, Tokyo Yakult Swallows), Roki Sasaki (right-handed pitcher, Chiba Lotte Marines, who participated in the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2019), Susuke Genda (infielder, Seibu Lions), Shugo Maki (infielder, Yokohama DeNA Bay Stars), Kensuke Kondo (catcher, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks), Takuya Kai (catcher, Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks), Shosei Togo (right-handed pitcher, Tokyo Yomiuri Giants), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (right-handed pitcher, Orix Buffaloes) and Shota Imanaga (left-handed pitcher, Yokohama DeNA BayStars).

Genda, Kondo, Kai, and Yamamoto helped Japan win gold at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics while Murakami, Kondo, Kai, Yamamoto, and Imanaga led Japan to first place in the WBSC Premier12 2019.

"I will need to discuss the other 18 players with the staff before making further announcements," commented Kuriyama, whose staff includes bench coach Kazuyuki Shirai, pitching coach Rihito Yoshii, hitting coach Yoshiaki Yoshimura and coaches Masaharu Shimizu, Kazuyuki Atsuzawa, Noriyuki Shiroishi and Yoshinori Murata.

World No. 1 Japan will warm up against NPB teams. They will play the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks on 25 and 26 February in Miyazaki and face the Chunichi Dragons on 3 and 4 March in Nagoya.

Japan will host World Baseball Classic 2023 Group B at the Tokyo Dome from 9 to 13 March and face world No. 4 Korea, No 10 Australia, No. 15 Czech Republic and No. 30 China.

SAMURAI JAPAN WBC OFFICIAL WEBSITE

Lead photo courtesy of Kyodo News