Matsuzaka, Suzuki among 34 candidates for next year's WBC

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TOKYO, Dec. 15 (20:14) Kyodo

The names of 34 players, featuring Boston Red Sox right-hander
Daisuke Matsuzaka and Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki, were
announced Monday in a preliminary list of candidates being enlisted
as Japan aims to defend its WBC title next March.

Along with Matsuzaka and Suzuki, who both helped Japan win the
inaugural title in 2006, other major league candidates include
Seattle catcher Kenji Jojima, Los Angeles Dodgers right-hander Hiroki
Kuroda, Tampa Bay Rays infielder Akinori Iwamura and Chicago Cubs
infielder Kosuke Fukudome.

Takashi Saito, who has become a free agent after the Dodgers did
not tender him a contract for next season, was also named but New
York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui did not make the list as he has
been officially ruled out of the WBC by the Yankees since he must
focus on rehabilitation of his knee ahead of next season.

Rakuten Eagles right-hander Hisashi Iwakuma, who won the Pacific
League MVP in 2008, was chosen along with Nippon Ham Fighters
right-hander Yu Darvish.

Yokohama BayStars slugger Shuichi Murata, who captured the
Central League home run title for the second year in a row, and
Hanshin Tigers closer Kyuji Fujikawa were also picked.

Tatsunori Hara will manage the Japanese team for the 2009 WBC.
Of the 12 teams, the Chunichi Dragons were the only team that had no
players selected.


Japan's 2009 WBC preliminary candidates:
Pitchers -- Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox), Hiroki Kuroda (Los
Angeles Dodgers), Takashi Saito (formerly of the Los Angeles
Dodgers), Takayuki Kishi (Seibu Lions), Hideaki Wakui (Seibu Lions),
Satoshi Komatsu (Orix Buffaloes), Yu Darvish (Nippon Ham Fighters),
Shunsuke Watanabe (Lotte Marines), Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Eagles),
Hisashi Iwakuma (Rakuten Eagles), Takahiro Mahara (Softbank Hawks),
Tsuyoshi Wada (Softbank Hawks), Toshiya Sugiuchi (Softbank Hawks),
Tetsuya Utsumi (Yomiuri Giants), Tetsuya Yamaguchi (Yomiuri Giants),
Kyuji Fujikawa (Hanshin Tigers)
Catchers -- Kenji Jojima (Seattle Mariners), Toru Hosokawa (Seibu
Lions), Shinnosuke Abe (Yomiuri Giants), Yoshiyuki Ishihara
(Hiroshima Carp)
Infielders -- Akinori Iwamura (Tampa Bay Rays), Hiroyuki Nakajima
(Seibu Lions), Yasuyuki Kataoka (Seibu Lions), Nobuhiko Matsunaka
(Softbank Hawks), Munenori Kawasaki (Softbank Hawks), Michihiro
Ogasawara (Yomiuri Giants), Kenta Kurihara (Hiroshima Carp), Shuichi
Murata (Yokohama BayStars)
Outfielders -- Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners), Kosuke Fukudome
(Chicago Cubs), Atsunori Inaba (Nippon Ham Fighters), Yoshiyuki Kamei
(Yomiuri Giants), Norichika Aoki (Yakult Swallows), Seichi Uchikawa
(Yokohama BayStars)

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