Japan sets final WBC roster
Japan's 28-man World Baseball Classic squad includes five major leaguers
Heading the list are outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka
Suzuki and Matsuzaka were key members of the team that won the WBC in 2006
MIYAZAKI, Japan (AP) -- Japan's final roster for the 2009 World Baseball Classic was set on Sunday with Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka among five major league players on the 28-man squad.
Suzuki and Matsuzaka were key members of the team that won the inaugural WBC in 2006. Other major league players selected to the 2009 team were catcher Kenji Johjima of the Mariners, infielder Akinori Iwamura of the Tampa Bay Rays and outfielder Kosuke Fukudome of the Chicago Cubs.
Japan, led by Yomiuri Giants manager Tatsunori Hara, will begin the defense of its title when the tournament begins on March 5 at Tokyo Dome.
The five players who did not make the final selection Sunday were pitchers Tsuyoshi Wada, Takayuki Kishi, catcher Toru Hosokawa, infielder Nobuhiko Matsunaka and outfielder Kenta Kurihara.
Japan is in Group A with South Korea, Taiwan and China. The top two teams advance to the second round of the 16-nation tournament which will be played in the United States, along with the final scheduled for March 23 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles.
Other pitchers selected include starters Yu Darvish and Hisashi Iwakuma and relief pitcher Kyuji Fujikawa.
Earlier Sunday, Fukudome hit a grand slam in the second inning to power Japan to a 13-1 win over the Giants in a tuneup for the WBC. Iwamura added a three-run homer in the fifth inning to give Japan a 10-1 lead.
In two warmup games against the Giants, Japan has scored 23 runs while giving up only one.
Pitchers: Daisuke Matsuzaka (Boston Red Sox); Hideaki Wakui (Seibu Lions); Satoshi Komatsu (Orix Buffaloes); Yu Darvish (Nippon Ham Fighters); Shunsuke Watanabe (Lotte Marines); Masahiro Tanaka (Rakuten Eagles); Hisashi Iwakuma (Rakuten Eagles); Takahiro Mahara (Softbank Hawks); Toshiya Sugiuchi (Softbank Hawks); Tetsuya Utsumi (Yomiuri Giants); Tetsuya Yamaguchi (Yomiuri Giants); Minoru Iwata (Hanshin Tigers); Kyuji Fujikawa (Hanshin Tigers).
Catchers: Kenji Johjima (Seattle Mariners); Shinnosuke Abe (Yomiuri Giants); Yoshiyuki Ishihara (Hiroshima Carp).
Infielders: Akinori Iwamura (Tampa Bay Rays); Hiroyuki Nakajima (Seibu Lions); Yasuyuki Kataoka (Seibu Lions); Munenori Kawasaki (Softbank Hawks); Michihiro Ogasawara (Yomiuri Giants); Shuichi Murata (Yokohama BayStars).
Outfielders: Ichiro Suzuki (Seattle Mariners); Kosuke Fukudome (Chicago Cubs); Atsunori Inaba (Nippon Ham Fighters); Yoshiyuki Kamei (Yomiuri Giants); Norichika Aoki (Yakult Swallows); Seiichi Uchikawa (Yokohama BayStars).
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