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12/07/2008 Entry: "WORLD BASEBALL TODAY (December 7, 2008)"

by Bruce Baskin
Radio Miami International

Japanese amateur pitcher Junichi Tazawa has agreed to a three-year, $3 million deal with the Boston Red Sox, according to the Boston Globe. Last week, the 22-year-old right-hander flew from Narita to Boston, where he was expected to take a physical exam prior to signing a contract with the Red Sox.
Tazawa pitched the Nippon Oil team to Japan’s industrial baseball championship last spring, then shocked the Japanese baseball establishment by opting out of that country’s amateur draft to pursue a professional career in the USA. The Globe quoted a “baseball source” as saying Tazawa’s contract with Boston will be a major league deal, and that he would not be eligible for free agency until he completes six years of service. One Red Sox source told the Boston paper that Tazawa was expected to begin his career in the States as a minor leaguer because he needs additional experience.
Besides the Red Sox, Tazawa received contract offers from the Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers and Atlanta Braves.

The American League champion Tampa Bay Rays announced last week that they have entered into an agreement with the city of Marilia, Brazil to construct and open that country’s first baseball academy operated by a major league organization. The complex is expected to be built in 2009, with the cost borne by both local and Brazilian government funding. It will include two full playing fields, two diamonds for youth teams and a dormitory for up to 40 players. The academy will be overseen by Adrian de Souza, who was hired earlier this year by Tampa Bay to scout for Brazilian prospects. There are currently twelve minor leaguers from Brazil, but no player from the soccer-mad country has ever made it to the majors.
In addition to searching for baseball talent in a nation with a population of over 200 million people, the Rays will also introduce the game to groups between 7 and 14 years of age in the Marilia area. Marilia is a city of about 225,000 residents northeast of Brazil’s capital of Sao Paolo. Rays president Andrew Friedman says the team’s special assistant of baseball operations Andres Reiner has worked for years on the Brazilian project, which Friedman acknowledges is “obviously a long-term initiative” that is not “going to pay dividends in a year from now, necessarily.”
The Rays also operate baseball academies in the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.

Future Hall of Fame pitcher Greg Maddux announced his retirement late last week, ending a career in which he won 355 games, struck out 3,371 batters and had an ERA of 3.16. Maddux was a 20-game winner for the Chicago Cubs in 1992 and the Atlanta Braves in 1993, and was an eight-time All-Star. He spent his entire 23-year major league career in the National League, and recently earned his record 18th Gold Glove.
Maddux split the 2008 season between the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers, going 8-11 with a 4.22 ERA. He made three relief appearances for the Dodgers in the playoffs, tossing four shutout innings.

Pinar del Rio pounded defending Cuban National Series champion Santiago de Cuba, 12-3, on November 30 in the league’s season opener. Starter Yuniesky Maya gave Pinar 5.1 solid innings of pitching, while Donald Duarte reached base all five times he strode to the plate (including an inside-the-park home run).
Maya retired ten consecutive batters at one point en route to breaking Pinar’s ten-game regular season losing streak to Santiago, whose ace Norge Vera was clobbered by the Pinar batsmen, allowing eight runs before leaving the contest with the bases loaded and two out in the sixth inning. Last season’s MVP, Santiago’s Alexei Bell, had to leave the game for X-rays after being struck in the face by a Maya pitch in the first inning. Bell smashed 31 homers and drove in 111 runs last winter, but his untimely exit was indicative of what kind of night it was for Santiago, who lost their first opener in four years.

The 27-19 Mazatlan Venados have taken the Mexican Pacific League second half lead despite a 6-5 loss to Hermosillo on Wednesday. Humberto Cota led the Narajeros with a pair of two-run homers. First half champion Los Mochis is hot on Mazatlan’s heels at 26-19. Mochis lost to Obregon, 7-3, Wednesday as Iker Franco homered for the eighth time in nine games for the defending MexPac champion Yaquis.

In Puerto Rico, the 11-7 Arecibo Lobos are a game ahead of 10-8 Mayaguez after the Lobos lost to Santurce, 8-7, as Jose Valentin smacked a homer for the Crabbers on Wednesday. Ponce (11-9) is in a virtual tie for second with Mayaguez after beating Caguas, 8-6, as Red Sox farmhand Joe Thurston went 3-for-4 with four runs for the Leones.

The Cibao Gigantes are on top of the Dominican League tables with a 22-16 record. Cibao lost Wednesday night to the 21-17 Este Azucareros, 3-2, thanks to Danny Richar’s two-run eighth inning single for the Azucareros. Licey is tied with Este for second despite losing to Cibaenas, 10-4, on Wednesday as Luis Polonia had two hits and three RBIs for the Aguilas.

In the Venezuelan League, Caracas is holding on to the league leadership at 25-13 following a 6-5 loss to LaGuaira Wednsday night. Rangers catching prospect Max Ramirez swatted a three-run walkoff homer to hand the Tiburones their second straight win over the Leones, who got a homer from infielder Marco Scutaro.

Hoping to repeat the great success they’ve had with the signing of Mexican closer Joakim Soria to a contract two years ago, the Kansas City Royals have inked another reliever from south of the border. Federico Castaneda was a classmate of Soria’s at the Mexican baseball academy near Monterrey, and (like Soria) is a 24-year-old with a good fastball and slider who has shown well in the Mexican Pacific League prior to signing with Kansas City.
A native of Torreon, Castaneda pitched last summer with the Mexican League’s Laguna Vaqueros, going 4-1 with a 4.28 ERA in 58 appearances out of the bullpen. Pitching for the Culiacan Tomateros in the MexPac this winter, the 6’3” righty middleman has a 1.19 ERA in 19 relief stints with 16 strikeouts in 22 innings. He has not been involved in any decisions.
Castaneda is expected to open the 2009 season with Northwest Arkansas in the Class AA Texas League after signing a minor league contract with the Royals, but may be invited to Kansas City’s major league training camp in February as a non-roster pitcher.

Nippon Ham Fighters ace Yu Darvish will be returning to the Pacific League team in 2009 after signing for an estimated salary of 270 million yen next season, which translates to about $2.9 million U.S. dollars. Darvish earned 200 million yen in 2008 on the heels of a Sawamura Award-winning season for the Fighters in 2007.
The son of an Iranian father and Japanese mother, the 22-year-old Darvish is considered one of Japan’s top pitchers. The 6’5” righty has a career record of 63-18 with 518 strikeouts in 600 innings over four seasons with the Hokkaido-based Fighters. He has won 43 of 57 decisions the past three years, two seasons with an ERA of below 1.90. Darvish was 16-4 in 2008 with a 1.88 ERA, 208 strikeouts and Japanese-best ten complete games.
Darvish also pitched for Japan in the Beijing Olympics last summer, but did not do well. He appeared in three games and finished 0-1 with a 5.14 ERA. While he struck out ten batters in seven innings, he also issued five walks, uncorked two wild pitches and hit a batter.

Former University of Tennessee head coach Rod Delmonico has been selected as manager for The Netherlands National Baseball Team. The 50-year-old Delmonico becomes the 14th American to manage the Dutch squad since longtime Miami coach Ron Fraser began his first stint in Holland in 1960. Current USA National Team coach and former big league player and manager Davey Johnson managed the Dutch team in 2003.
Delmonico is a 1980 graduate of Virginia’s Liberty University, and spent six years as an assistant coach at Florida State before taking the reins at Tennessee in 1990. In 18 seasons with the Volunteers, Delmonico coached teams to nine Southeast Conference tournament titles, 14 NCAA Regional Championships, and six appearances in the College World Series. During his time with the Vols, 73 of his players were taken in the major league draft, including ten first-rounders. In all, 95 of Delmonico’s Tennessee players signed professional contracts, including Todd Helton, Jimmy Key, Luis Alicea and Paul Sorrento.
Delmonico takes over the Dutch National Team from former Yankees infielder Robert Eenhorn, who led the squad for eight years. He inherits a team that is considered Europe’s best, along with Italy, and will manage The Netherlands in next spring’s World Baseball Classic.

Following a flurry of makeup and first round playoff games last weekend at Manila’s Rizal Memorial Stadium, four teams remain standing in the Baseball Philippines Series 4 postseason this weekend.
The Cebu Dolphins finished the regular season tied with the Taguig Patriots for first place at 8-2, while the Dumaguete Unibikers and Muntinlupa Mariners finished tied for third with 4-6 records. The defending champion Batangas Bulls tied with the Manila Sharks for fifth and last places at 3-7 apiece, but Batangas leaped past Muntinlupa into their semifinal berth by beating the Mariners in their first round matchup while Dumaguete dispatched Manila in their matchup as both Cebu and Taguig earned first-round byes.
This weekend, Cebu was set to open the semis on Saturday with a game against Batangas, while Taguig was scheduled to take on Dumaguete. The winners will meet in a best-of-three BP Championship Series, beginning next weekend.

Replies: 1 Comment

Could you help me. To lengthen thy life, lessen thy meals.
I am from Ukraine and , too, and now am writing in English, please tell me whether I wrote the following sentence: "A hour fast is the most important thing you can do to allow your pet inflamed stomach to heal."

:-) Thanks in advance. Irisa.

Posted by Irisa @ 01/18/2009 07:41 PM EST

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