• Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

Cuba gears up for Planet Baseball Classic semifinals immediately after trip from Asia


Mar 18, 2023

MIAMI — For weeks, Group Cuba ready for Planet Baseball Classic pool play in Taichung, Taiwan. It was a 12-hour time zone distinction from Miami, exactly where the single-elimination tournament they had been pursuing was scheduled to be played.

Cuba arrived on Thursday to start preparing for the victor from Saturday’s quarterfinal matchup among Group USA and Venezuela at loanDepot park.

“In my encounter, you have to have at least one particular week to get utilized to the new time,” outfielder Alfredo Despaigne stated Saturday. “But we are warriors. We’re going to go out and fight.”

Cuba overcame an -two commence in Pool A to emerge from a 5-way tiebreaker. They edged out Australia, four-three, in the quarterfinals on Wednesday to move on to the semifinal round in Miami (Sunday at 7 p.m. ET on FS1).

“These days off should not impact us,” stated Despaigne. “… We are attempting to make some adjustments. We’re attempting to be awake in the course of the day to be a hundred % tomorrow [for] the game. Yes, we necessary some rest. We educated yesterday, by the way, and nowadays, as nicely. Yesterday, instruction was optional, but some players stated, ‘No, we have to make our adjustment,’ and we went to practice.”

Veteran left-hander Roenis Elías will get the commence for Cuba. The opposing beginning pitcher will be determined immediately after the USA-Venezuela matchup. Though Cuba does not but know who they will face, the group is expecting a diverse style on the mound than it had observed in earlier Classic action.

“The pitching more than there was not the identical as right here,” Despaigne stated. “There are much more higher-speed pitchers right here. They use much more breaking balls more than there. We are now in America, we are no longer in Asia. We have to alter the mindset. I will have to make some adjustments to the speed of the pitchers — and we are performing that. I hope we have as excellent [success] batting as we had in Asia.”

Cuba is coming off a seven-hit functionality against Australia wherein its runs had been driven in by a collaborative work of 3 diverse players (Despaigne, Yoelkis Guibert and Luis Robert Jr.).

“I feel that they have discovered with each and every other,” manager Armando Johnson stated. “They have fantastic expertise and I feel that we have a excellent engagement to face the pitching. It is tricky for the hitters, of course, but we have higher high-quality players and I think that they can make these adjustments to face the pitching right here in Miami.”

Sunday’s semifinal contest is the farthest Cuba has sophisticated in the WBC due to the fact finishing as the runner-up in 2006. Cuba was sixth in ‘09, fifth in ‘13 and seventh in ‘17. 

“We think we have that dream of raising the trophy,” stated Johnson. “We recognize, nevertheless, the high-quality of the teams we have to play. But one particular game or two games, anybody could win.”