The World Baseball Classic began last night and Pittsburgh Pirates minor league third baseman Stefan Welch provided Australia’s only run with a seventh inning solo homer. Australia was shut down for the first six innings by free agent Chein-Ming Wang. Welch finished the day 1-for-3, as Australia dropped their opener 4-1 to Chinese Taipei.
Since the initial rosters were announced, both Ivan De Jesus Jr and Russell Martin have dropped out of the tournament, leaving the Pirates with six players still in the Classic. De Jesus withdrew because he wanted to concentrate on trying to make the Pirates Opening Day roster, while Martin initially pulled out due to the fact he wanted to play shortstop, citing that he wasn’t ready to catch all nine innings of the game this early in Spring. He has since had a sore right shoulder that has kept him out of the lineup until today, when he will DH, so he would’ve likely missed the WBC anyway.
Chris Leroux will start for Team Canada. The rotation hasn’t been decided yet, but along with fellow starters Shawn Hill and Scott Mathieson, he will start one of the three first round games. Jameson Taillon will pitch out of the pen in the first round.
Pitchers in the WBC first round have a 65 pitch limit, down from 70 last time. The pitch count increases each round, up to 80 in round two and 95 in the final round.
Team Australia (Welch) next play Korea at 6:30 PM local time on Monday night, which is 5:30 AM Eastern Standard Time. They then take on Netherlands 18 hours later at 11:30 PM EST Monday.
Team Mexico (Ali Solis) plays their first game against Team Italy(Jason Grilli) on Thursday at 3:00 PM EST.
Team Canada (Taillon, Leroux) opens up their schedule Friday at 2:30 PM EST against Team Italy.
Team Dominican (Wandy Rodriguez) takes on Venezuela Thursday night at 6:30 PM EST.