The Japanese Baseball Federation has found a replacement for Senichi Hoshino as manager of the national team at the World Baseball Classic 2009. The skipper of the Yomiuri Giants, Tatsunori Hara accepted an offer to guide Japan next March. The 50-year-old recently led his Giants to the Central League title and will play for the Japanese championship against the Seibu Lions in November.
Japan won the premiere of the World Baseball Classic in 2006, beating Cuba behind MVP Daisuke Matsuzaka in the final. They are going to open the 2009 tournament on March 5th at the Tokyo Dome. In round one they will face Korea, Taiwan and China. The competition lasts till March 23, when the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles hosts the final game. Italy and the Netherlands are the lone European participants in the WBC 2009.