The WBC released officials schedules for the First Round of the classic. The schedule for Pool A (at Yahoo Dome):
Game 1, March 2 - Japan @ Brazil
Gmae 2, March 3 - Cuba @ Brazil
Game 3, March 3 - China @ Japan
Game 4, March 4 - China @ Cuba
Game 5, March 5 - Brazil @ China
Game 6, March 6 - Japan @ Cuba
The rest of the schedule can be seen at the official WBC site.
Toshiya Sugiuchi (Yomiuri) feels he should be ok to pitch in the WBC. Sugiuchi is currently focused on weight training and running right now. He is hoping to play some catch at some point before the end of the month. He does not mind being a reliever during the WBC (the experience of playing overrides being a starter) and prefers to wear the number eighteen (but it is not a showstopper for him). Source: Nikkan Sports 12/4/2012, Sponichi 12/4/2012, Sponichi 12/4/2012
Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten) will prepare himself so that he can start tossing bullpen sessions before the end of January. Source: Sponichi 12/4/2012
Second and third base are blank slates. Players in the mix: Hirokazu Ibata (Chunichi), Kazuo Matsui (Rakuten), and Takashi Toritani (Hanshin) at second; and Shuichi Murata (Yomiuri), Nobuhiro Matsuda (Softbank), Toritani (Hanshin) at third.
Atsunori Inaba (Nippon Ham) is the front-runner at first. Other players like Seiichi Uchikawa (Softbank) and Sho Nakata (Nippon Ham) could also see some time at first as well. Hayato Sakamoto (Yomiuri) will most likely be the starting shortstop.
Kazuhisa Makita could be the lead candidate to close. Other possibilities include Tetsuya Yamaguchi (Yomiuri) and Takuya Asao (Chunichi). Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten) could also slip into the role, like Yu Darvish did in 2009, if the team makes it far enough. Source: Sports Hochi 12/4/2012
Shinnosuke Abe (Yomiuri) is the captain. Since the team is fairly young, Koji Yamamoto is hoping Inaba and Ibata will be able to help Abe out. Source: Sanspo 12/4/2012
Senichi Hoshino would like Yamamoto to enjoy this experience as if were going to be his last. Source: Daily Sports 12/4/2012
Nikkan Sports posted a portion of Yamamoto's press conference:
Thirty-four players were selected. What were the things you looked for in a player?
Defense was important. We also wanted to focus on baseball that relied on legs. So we selected players that were good on defense and capable of scoring runs with their legs.
You selected a team of domestic players.
We did receive replies from MLB players that wanted to participate, but if you consider their conditioning, their seasons, it seemed like a difficult situation. We will get the domestic players together for this.
Who is the captain?
Shinnosuke Abe. His accomplishments and everyone knows everything he did this season. He should be able to pull this team together. I think veterans like Inaba and Ibata will do what they can to support him. There are a lot of young players on this team, so getting them all together will be important.
The first opponent will be Brazil.
They beat Panama in the Qualifier. They seem to be a team with a strong pitching staff. We can not let our guard down from the first game.
Your thoughts on going for a third championship...
I would like to go for a third straight championship. But taking it one game at a time will be important. We will need to win the First Round, the Second Round, the Semifinals, and then the Finals.
Source: Nikkan Sports 12/4/2012
Yamamoto on selecting eight Yomiuri players: "I am sorry so many were selected. It just happened to work out that way.
On selecting Matsui: "He is experienced and accomplished. That was mentioned during out staff meetings. In the end, I selected him."
Source: Sponichi 12/4/2012