TOKYO (AP) — Japan officials on Friday named 12 members of their World Baseball Classic team who will represent the country later this year.
They include three major leaguers: Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels), Yu Darvish (San Diego Padres) and Seiya Suzuki (Chicago Cubs).
The World Baseball Classic will be played in Japan, Taiwan and United States from March 8-21. It features 20 national teams, and the powers from Asia will be Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia.
Latin America will feature the largest contingent with Colombia, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama and Nicaragua.
The United States and Canada are also entered.
"I remember watching the games with my heart pounding," Ohtani said at a press conference in Tokyo. "Now I get to play. And so I really want to play well. I'm focused on winning."
Japan's manager will be Hideki Kuriyama. He said the complete team list would be announced later.
"We will build a game centered around pitching," Kuriyama said.
This is the fifth time the event has been held. Japan has won it twice, with single championships for the Dominican Republic and the Untied States.
Pitchers: Yu Darvish (San Diego Padres), Shosei Togo (Yomiuri Giants), Roki Sasaki (Lotte Marines), Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels), Yoshinobu Yamamoto (Orix Buffaloes) and Shota Imanaga (DeNA BayStars)
Catcher: Takuya Kai (SoftBank Hawks)
Infielders: Sosuke Genda (Seibu Lions), Shugo Maki (DeNA BayStars), Munetaka Murakami (Yakult Swallows)
Outfielders: Kensuke Kondo (SoftBank Hawks), Seiya Suzuki (Chicago Cubs)
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