Team Venezuela World Baseball Classic 2013: Schedule, Roster and Predictions

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Team Venezuela World Baseball Classic 2013: Schedule, Roster and Predictions
Elsa/Getty Images

Coaching Staff:

Manager: Luis Sojo
Pitching Coach: Wilson Alvarez
Coach: Marco Davalillo Sr.
Coach: Luis Dorante
Coach: Andres Galarraga

Pitchers:

Henderson Alvarez
Ronald Belisario
Jhoulys Chacin
Enrique Gonzalez
Delois Guerra
Cesar Jimenez
Wil Ledezma
Ramon Ramirez
Juan Rincon
Francisco Rodriguez
Anibal Sanchez
Romulo Sanchez
Alex Torres
Carlos Zambrano

The Venezuelan pitching staff does boast some strong names, with Anibal Sanchez leading the way, but there are two notable absences from the staff that will be felt as the team looks to advance.

Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images
Will King Felix's absence from the WBC prove to be too much for Venezuela to overcome?

Felix Hernandez hoped to pitch for the team, but under pressure from the Seattle Mariners after signing his massive contract this offseason he ultimately opted out.

Johan Santana is another notable Venezuelan name not on the staff, though free agents Carlos Zambrano and Francisco Rodriguez can provide some help.

 

Catchers:

Ramon Hernandez
Miguel Montero
Salvador Perez

14-year veteran Ramon Hernandez brings plenty of experience to the Venezuelan backstops, though he'll likely give way to Diamondbacks catcher Miguel Montero much of the time.

Montero has batted over .280 and gone deep at least 15 times in three of the past four seasons.

 

Infielders:

Elvis Andrus
Asdrubal Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera
Omar Infante
Mario Lisson
Pablo Sandoval
Marco Scutaro

The Venezuelan infield is perhaps the strongest in this year's WBC, led by triple crown and AL MVP winner Miguel Cabrera.

Even if pitchers choose to avoid Cabrera, they'll be stuck facing Pablo Sandoval and Marco Scutaro, two players who played a big role in the Giants' run towards another World Series title last season.

Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Omar Infante and Elvis Andrus make up the middle of the infield and should provide enough defense to hold up against opposing offenses.

 

Outfielders:

Carlos Gonzalez
Gerardo Parra
Martin Prado
Alex Romero

Martin Prado will have big shoes to fill this season in Arizona as he looks to fill the void created when the Diamondbacks dealt Justin Upton to the Atlanta Braves, though his .295 career average will also be an asset to the Venezuelan outfielders during the WBC.

Carlos Gonzalez is another threat in the outfield, with two gold gloves and an appearance in the 2012 All-Star game representing the highlight of another strong season with the Rockies.

 

First Round Schedule (Pool C):

Hiram Bithorn Stadium - San Juan, Puerto Rico

March 7: Venezuela at Dominican Republic
March 9: Puerto Rico at Venezuela
March 10: Spain at Venezuela

The opening matchup between Venezuela and the Dominican Republic on Thursday could very well be the best game of pool play, with two potent lineups squaring off for position in Pool C.

Led by Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Hanley Ramirez, the Dominicans will be giving the Venezuelan pitching staff all it can handle.

Elsa/Getty Images

On Saturday, the team will matchup against some of the national league's top talent as outfielders Carlos Beltran and Angel Pagan and catcher Yadier Molina lead the Puerto Rican team in front of its home fans.

They will conclude pool play on Sunday against Spain, a team who sits 16th in the IBAF rankings, eight spots behind Venezuela.

 

Potential Second Round Opponents (Pool D)

Canada
Italy
Mexico
United States

Should the Venezuelans advance past the first round as they're expected, the team will likely face off against what could be their toughest opponent in a United States team looking to atone for a disappointing fourth place finish in the 2009 WBC.

A relatively weak group of teams in Pool D should allow the United States to advance with ease, and the Canadian sluggers could also play a big role in the second round of games.

 

Final Prediction: Fourth Place

After losing to the South Korean team in 2009 en route to a third place finish, the Venezuelan team has the offense to make it even further this time around, though as mentioned earlier, absences in the pitching staff could prove costly.

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