JUPITER, Fla. -- Hopes are high for Team Venezuela as the club approaches pool play in the World Baseball Classic, and if the crowd at Roger Dean Stadium on Tuesday night is any indication, so are expectations. The majority of the fans in attendance for the team's exhibition against the Miami Marlins were decked out in Venezuela gear.
None of that is unfamiliar to manager Luis Sojo, who is managing Venezuela in the Classic for the third time. Still, this may be the best team the country has yet put forth, with stars up and down the lineup.
"This group of guys, they want to win," Sojo said. "They know what to do to get that goal. In our meetings, we see guys, it's all about winning. There's nothing else.
"I would say it's a great team, but on paper, it doesn't mean anything. You've got to perform on the field. We've got the guys who know how to play the game."
Venezuela's team features the reigning American League Most Valuable Player (Miguel Cabrera) and the MVPs of the World Series (Pablo Sandoval) and National League Championship Series (Marco Scutaro), along with stars such as Carlos Gonzalez, Elvis Andrus and Martin Prado.
Zambrano hopes Classic leads back to Majors
JUPITER, Fla. -- Carlos Zambrano is hoping that the World Baseball Classic will help propel him to an enticing offer from a Major League team. He got off to a decent start in that regard on Tuesday night.
Starting for Venezuela against the Miami Marlins, Zambrano pitched two shutout innings. He allowed two hits, a walk and struck out two in the 6-5 loss.
"I felt good," Zambrano said. "I was strong. I kept the ball down. I kept every pitch down. The last inning, the second inning, I was rushing too much, but I was able to come back and get the last out."
Zambrano spent last season with the Marlins. The 31-year-old, who is currently a free agent, was 7-10 with a 4.49 ERA, 95 strikeouts and 75 walks in 132 1/3 innings.
"I have a couple of offers, but they're not the kind of offers that I want," Zambrano said. "I think this is a good moment, the WBC, to show or prove something."
At his peak, Zambrano was one of the game's best pitchers. He had five straight seasons with 200 or more innings, topped 200 strikeouts twice and posted a 2.75 ERA in 2004. Zambrano's faded in recent years, though, and he hasn't topped 150 innings since 2009.
Matthew Leach is a writer for MLB.com. Read his blog, Obviously, You're Not a Golfer and follow him on Twitter at @MatthewHLeach. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.