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03/09/2008 Archived Entry: "WORLD BASEBALL TODAY: Vol. 2, No. 10"

by Bruce Baskin
Radio Miami International

Florida Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria made his first appearance at the team’s spring training camp in Jupiter last week, and vowed to increase the Marlins payroll once Miami’s recently-approved new ballpark opens in time for the 2011 season. The retractable-roof stadium will be built on the site of the Orange Bowl in Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood at a cost of $619 million.
Until then, however, Marlins fans shouldn’t expect the dust to be shaken loose from Loria’s wallet anytime soon. After Florida shipped $15 million dollars’ worth of salary in the form of third baseman Miguel Cabrera and pitcher Dontrelle Willis to Detroit, the Marlins are projected to open the 2008 season with a $20 million payroll, lowest in the majors. Nobody remains from Florida’s 2003 World Series champions, and the team has finished last in Major League Baseball attendance each of the past two seasons.
Loria says that while a significant payroll increase would most likely occur once the new ballpark is finished, it won’t likely happen beforehand. With 17 players on the Marlins’ 40-man roster eligible for arbitration following the season, further paring in the future is hardly out of the question.

Pitcher Scott Kazmir’s elbow strain appears to he healing nicely, and the left-hander may be ready to pitch in time for Tampa Bay’s regular season opener at Baltimore on March 31. It was originally feared last week that Kazmir might be out for a greater length of time, but an MRI taken after he was pulled from the first inning of an intrasquad game did not reveal a serious injury.
Kazmir played catch with the Rays’ head athletic trainer Ron Porterfield Thursday morning at Tampa Bay’s training camp in Clearwater, and manager Joe Maddon was happy with what he saw. Maddon said Kazmir looked normal and was not holding back, and that he was optimistic the 24-year-old could be “ready to go” in the opener.
Kazmir led the American League in 2007 with 239 strikeouts, going 13-9 with a 3.48 ERA in a club record 34 starts after an All-Star Game selection one year earlier.

While it’s never a good idea to get too excited about a preseason game in early March, Atlanta Braves manager Bobby Cox still has to be pretty happy about the performance of his pitching staff in a recent exhibition game with Cleveland.
The Braves beat the Indians, 4-1, last week in Winter Haven as seven Atlanta pitchers combined to come within one out of a no-hitter. Non-roster infielder Danny Sandoval broke the spell for Cleveland with a two-out ninth-inning single off Atlanta reliever Colton Bean.
Starter Jair Jurrjens (pronounced “JY-eer JER-jins”) from Curacao pitched three perfect innings for Atlanta and first baseman Mark Teixeira smashed his first homer of the spring as the Braves won their fifth of seven exhibition games. The 22-year-old Jurrjens came to Atlanta from Detroit when the Braves traded infielder Edgar Renteria to the Tigers in the offseason.

The International Baseball Federation’s final Olympic Qualification Tournament began Friday with a four-game schedule at two stadiums in Taiwan. While South Africa took on South Korea in an afternoon game at Taichung’s Intercontinental Stadium, Mexico and Canada were meeting at Tou-Liou Stadium. After a 6:30 Opening Ceremony at Intercontinental, host Taiwan locked horns with Spain. Germany played Australia Friday night in Tou-Liou.
The eight nations are competing for the final three slots in this summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing, the final time baseball will be played as an Olympic sport. The schedule includes two doubleheaders over a seven-day span as teams play each other once in a round-robin format. There will be no playoff.
The three teams advancing from this tournament will join host China, Japan, Cuba, Holland and the United States to round out the eight-nation field this summer. Olympic baseball will take place August 13-23 at Beijing’s Wukesong Stadium.

The Mexican National Team made their last game in North America before heading across the Pacific a memorable one by edging the Colorado Rockies, 2-1, in a contest at Tucson, Arizona. The victory evened the Mexican series with the defending National League champions at one win apiece.
Mexico’s Ivan Terrazas whacked a leadoff triple against Rockies starter Jeff Francis, and later plated the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly by Albino Contreras. Second baseman Carlos Valencia drove in Mexico’s second run with a single, while outfielder Christian Presichi posted a pair of doubles.
Starter Walter Silva took the win for Mexico after allowing just two hits in 4.2 innings, although he did dish up four walks. Relievers Pablo Ortega, David Cortes and Rafael Diaz were perfect over the final 3.2 innings, combining for five strikeouts. The only Mexican pitcher to run into trouble against a Colorado lineup that included Matt Holliday, Todd Helton, Brad Hawpe and Willy Taveras was Edgar Huerta, who was roughed up for a run on three hits and a walk in just two-thirds of an inning.

Canada scored four runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to break open a 5-5 game, and went on to beat Australia, 9-5, in the fourth and final game of a series between the two nations at Gold Coast, Australia. Mike Saunders drove in the winning run with a triple, and Ryan Radmanovich and Matt Rogelstad each picked up two RBIs. Saunders finished the game with three of Canada’s 12 hits, while Radmanovich and Emmanuel Garcia each had two safeties. Left fielder Daniel Berg collected three hits for Australia, including a solo homer, but Canadian reliever Tim Burton pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning to save the win for Aaron Wideman.
Canada starter James Avery turned in a solid three innings, shutting out Australia on no hits with three strikeouts. Conversely, Australia opener Chris Mowday was reached for four runs and four hits in three frames, while Australian relief pitcher Matt Timms got clobbered by four hits and four runs in the eighth without retiring a batsman.
The win was Canada’s second against the Aussies, who won one game and tied another. Both teams were warming up for this week’s Olympic Qualifier in Taiwan.

Both Taiwan and South Korea came out winners in games against teams from Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League in recent tune-up matches prior to the Olympics Qualifier Tournament in Taipei.
Taiwan snagged a 2-1 win over the La New Bears. Taiwanese starting pitcher Jien-Ming Jiang gave up a run on a wild pitch in the top of the first inning, but settled down to hold the Bears scoreless from the second through the fifth, although he did allow at least one hit in each frame. Tai-Chan Chang and Chih-Sheng Lin each stroked two hits, but both Taiwan runs came in on sacrifice flies as the national team was able to cobble together just six hits for the game as three relievers tossed four shutout innings for the win.
South Korea defeated the dMedia T-Rex by a 3-1 count, scoring all three runs on four hits through the first three stanzas to take the lead. dMedia got their only run of the game on an RBI double in the eighth, but the T-Rex did not get much done in the clutch by batting just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position.

Following the first winter without baseball in Puerto Rico in 70 years, the president of the Puerto Rican League is confident the league will return for the 2008-09 season, and that he’ll be a part of it. The El Vocero de Puerto Rico newspaper quoted Jose Andreu Garcia as saying, “We have very advanced plans for the League. I assure you that we will return this year and have one of the most exciting seasons ever seen.”
After many seasons of financial hardships, the Puerto Rican League turned off the lights for the recently-concluded winter season and did not send a team to the Caribbean Series. Instead, the host Dominican League’s second-place team, the Licey Tigres, substituted for Puerto Rico and went on to win their record ninth CS title.
Andreu Garcia, who is the former president of the Puerto Rico Supreme Court, addressed his own status in an interview with another paper, El Nuevo Dia, stating that he will not resign despite ill health. He added that the Manati Atenienses may move to Guaynabo, a city next to San Juan, citing that while only 400 people per game show up in Manati, the ballpark in Guaynabo can hold 2,500 spectators.

Do you remember the Cadaco All-Star Baseball Game? That table game played on a faux Wrigley Field backdrop with spinners and discs for players with numbers signifying everything from homers to strikeouts based on the player’s actual stats? Well, although Cadaco has discontinued producing boxed versions of All-Star Baseball, the game itself is not only alive and well, but one aficionado has created sets of discs for teams and leagues outside Major League Baseball.
Gene Newman of Alabama not only heads a Yahoo discussion group dedicated to the game, he has manufactured discs for leagues everywhere from Japan, Taiwan, and Korea to Mexico, Germany and Italy. Newman received the first All-Star Baseball Game as a Christmas gift in 1941. Gene began producing disc sets in 1993, and has hardly let up since. Besides foreign leagues, he has produced dozens of minor league sets as well.
People interested in contacting Newman for information on the Yahoo group or disc sets sent via email can contact him at Both the group membership and discs are free, although there is a waiting list for the latter.

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