The defending champion Japanese club has released its preliminary roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Several MLB players were included on the initial roster, including Cubs right fielder Kosuke Fukodome. After playing 2 great months for the Cubs in 2008, Fukodome struggled from June through September.
Other MLB players include Seattle’s Ichiro Suzuki and Kenjii Johjima; L.A. Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda; Tampa Bay’s Akinori Iwamura; Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka; and Takashi Saito, currently a free agent who had played with the Dodgers.
The Classic is slated to be played from March 5, 2009 through March 23, 2009. The event features 16 teams playing in 4 different pools (each on a different continent). The semifinals and finals of the 2009 Classic will be played at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
The next Japanese superstar pitcher to potentially play in the U.S., Yu Darvish, is also on the Japanese roster. Darvish is the ace of the Nippon Ham Fighters.