Two-time defending World Baseball Classic champion Japan has a new manager. On Wednesday Koji Yamamoto was officially named skipper of “Samurai Japan” at a press conference in Tokyo. He will make his debut on the helm at an exhibition series against Cuba on November 16 and 18 in Fukuoka and Sapporo. The former two-time Central League MVP will succeed Sadaharu Oh (2006 World Baseball Classic) and Tatsunori Hara (2009 World Baseball Classic), who will remain involved as advisors.
Additionally Yamamoto introduced the rest of his coaching staff with Osamu Higashio, Masataka Nashida, Tsuyoshi Yoda, Kazuyoshi Tatsunami , Nobuhiro Takashiro and Koichi Ogata. Japan is playing against Cuba, China and one of the qualifying teams in Pool A of the first round at the 2013 World Baseball Classic from March 2 to 6 at the Fukuoka Dome.
Puerto Rico meanwhile will be led by Edwin Rodriguez. The former manager of the Florida Marlins gets the nod over St. Louis Cardinals third base coach José Oquendo. Players on line to represent PR from March 7 to 10 at Hiram Birthorn Stadium in San Juan against the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and one of the qualifiers, will be Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Alex Rios, Mike Aviles, Andres Torres, Angel Pagan, Dicky Gonzalez, Orlando Roman and Giancarlo Alvarado.