Croatia needed to qualify for the 2010 European Championship in Stuttgart, Heidenheim and Neuenburg in 2008 at home in Karlovac after finished eighth in Barcelona 2007. Now Slobodan Gales, Jimmy Summers, Jason Pospishil and Co. are back on the stage, trying to move past Italy, Spain, Great Britain, Greece and Sweden into round two. Mister-Baseball talked with Croatia’s General Manager Krunoslav Karin about the upcoming tournament.
Mister-Baseball: What do you expect from your team in Stuttgart, Heidenheim and Neuenburg?
Krunoslav Karin: Our plan is to make top 3 in our group and advance to the second round of competitions.
MRBB: Can a team challenge defending Champion Netherlands in the 2010 European Championship? Which teams have the best chances of advancing in your group?
KK: I think that there are several teams who can challenge Netherlands. Unfortunately the CEB system of playing with round robin in second round took of a lots of excitements that 1/4 finals and semi finals bring.
In our group I think that Italy and Spain are favorites for advancing in second round.
MRBB: Which team could be the surprise of the tournament?
MRBB: General speaking is the level of play in European Baseball getting better and more balanced since the EC 2007 or is there still a gap between the top teams and the underdogs?
KK: We have teams like GB, Spain, and Greece whose level goes up a lot but not because of good programs in their country. It is because they have 18 – 24 players from Americas, USA, Venezuela,Cuba. It is a serious problem that CEB should face in the future. It will be very interesting if CEB runs EC with players who are originally born in their countries.
MRBB: There will be only a few professional players in the tournament. Does this will have an influence and does it hurt some teams more than others?
KK: It must hurt some teams, but fever of the tournament will stay the same.
MRBB: Looking at the rosters of the other teams, which players could be especially worthy to watch?
KK: Any young player, who came up trough their own country system,
MRBB: What is your plan for the final days before the Euro 2010? Which exhibition games do you have planned?
KK: We will play Prague baseball week from July 13th – July 18th. After that we are staying in Prague for 4 more days and will try to schedule more exhibition games with Prague local teams.
MRBB: Do you already have a starting lineup in place and who will be in your starting rotation?
KK: The guys will fight for the starting lineup in Prague. We carry 11 pitchers with us and they will have a chance to earn their spot in rotation in next 2 weeks.
Mister-Baseball thanks Krunoslav Karin for answering our questions and wishes good luck in the European Championship.