South Korea will open the 2013 World Baseball Classic against the Netherlands in March next year.
According to the schedules released by the tournament organizers Tuesday, South Korea, the runner-up at the previous WBC in 2009, will start the campaign against the Dutch on March 2 in Taichung, Taiwan.
In the opening round of the March 2-19 tournament, South Korea has been paired with the Netherlands, Australia and Taiwan in Pool B. The second match for South Korea will be against Australia on March 4. The final Pool B match will be against Taiwan the following day.
All Pool B contests will be held at Taichung International Baseball Stadium.
South Korea made the semifinals at the inaugural WBC in 2006 and then lost to Japan in the final in 2009.
Pool A features Japan, China, Cuba and Brazil. Pool C has Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Spain. Pool D includes the U.S., Mexico, Italy and Canada.
Pool A teams will play in Fukuoka, Japan. Pool C teams will be in action in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Pool D nations will face each other in Phoenix, Arizona.
In the double-elimination second round, the top two teams from Pool A will face the top two from Pool B at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, from March 8 to 12. The first two seeds from Pool C and Pool D will square off on the other side of the bracket at Marlins Park, the home of the Miami Marlins of MLB in Florida, from March 12 to 16.
The semifinals and the final will be held at AT&T Park in San Francisco, the home of the 2012 World Series champion, the San Francisco Giants.
South Korea is scheduled to open the two-week training camp on Feb. 12 in Taiwan, but it will likely do so with a decimated roster missing up to three left-handers and the country’s only Major League Baseball player.
Left-handed reliever Bong Jung-keun, a key member of the two previous WBC squads, was taken off the provisional roster due to shoulder pains. Left-handed starter Kim Kwang-hyun, a former MVP in South Korea’s Korea Baseball Organization, is dealing with shoulder problems of his own. He is scheduled to fly to the U.S. for tests.
Ryu Hyun-jin, another southpaw, could sit out the WBC if he reaches a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers. The Major League Baseball club put in a bid of about $26 million to secure the rights to negotiate with Ryu and the two sides could reach an agreement sometime next week.
Cleveland Indians outfielder Choo Shin-soo, currently the only South Korean in the majors, has been a subject of trade rumors and is a question mark. Scott Boras, an agent who represents both Ryu and Choo, has said his two Korean clients will not be available for the WBC.
MLB All-Stars from different countries have sat out previous WBCs and opted to prepare for upcoming big league seasons instead, as the tournament overlaps with spring training and preseason games. (Yonhap News)