Special for The Puerto Rico Daily Sun
Fort Lauderdale-“This classic is great”.
No matter there will be some considered big name major leaguers not present in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Tom Lasorda spoke passionately about the upcoming tournament.
“It really has grown. We will see real good competition”, Lasorda said at Fort Lauderdale Stadium where he stopped briefly on his world tour to promote the 16-nation World Baseball Classic.
Lasorda, a Dodger icon and Hall of Famer Manager, once again was untapped by Major League Baseball as a Global Ambassador. Lasorda was also Global Ambassador for the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
In his capacity as Global Ambassador, the former pitcher and skipper serves as a spokesman to increase awareness of the tournament and is traveling around host cities to help promote the event and growth of baseball internationally.
Lasorda visit coincided with the arrival of Team Italy to South Florida. Team Italy will be at Fort Lauderdale Stadium for the next three days through the weekend to scrimmage with the Baltimore Orioles.
Lasorda, who won the gold medal at the Sidney’ 2000 Olympics, did not make any predictions however he mentioned Puerto Rico have a solid competitive team to be a contender with good chance to go all the way to the final round.
Lasorda pointed Puerto Rico have a strong lineup of major leaguers and good mix of experience and youth. He mentioned one of the best games of the whole Classic will be the matchup between Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico but as a good baseball diplomat he did not want it to select a winner.
Group D (Dominican Republic, Netherlands, Panama and Puerto Rico) opening round of the 2009 tournament will begin on March 7 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan. Puerto Rico begins play against Panama.