11/16/12 1:41 PM ET
Renteria set to make Colombian debut
By Alex Espinoza / MLB.com
Not only will the teams be fighting for one spot in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but the managers will have some extra incentive to win. Colombia skipper Eduardo Perez and Nicaragua manager Dennis Martinez were recently hired by new Houston Astros manager Bo Porter to be the team's bench coach and bullpen coach, respectively.
The local fans were witness to an upset on Thursday night, as underdog Brazil defeated host country and favorite Panama, 3-2. The winner of Friday night's matchup will earn a Saturday matinee with Brazil (2 p.m. ET), while the loser will face Panama on Saturday night (8 p.m. ET) in the qualifier's first elimination match.
Just like Thursday's opener, the Colombia-Nicaragua matchup will feature two young right-handers with MLB affiliations. Mariners prospect Erasmo Ramirez will get the start for Nicaragua, while Royals farmhand Sugar Ray Marimon will take the mound for Colombia.
Without the services of three big league players who didn't receive permission from their respective clubs -- Angels closer Ernesto Frieri, White Sox southpaw Jose Quintana and Braves righty Julio Teheran -- Marimon is expected to be Colombia's top pitcher for the qualifier. The 24-year-old Marimon split time between the Royals' Advanced Class A and Double-A affiliates in 2012, going a combined 7-8 with a 3.34 ERA in 26 appearances (21 starts).
Ramirez, 22, shuttled between Seattle and the team's Triple-A club during the 2012 season. With the Mariners, he posted a 1-3 record with a 3.36 ERA in 16 appearances (eight starts). But Ramirez isn't the only player on Colombia with big league experience.
Former All-Star Edgar Renteria, 36, will represent Colombia for the first time in an international competition after sitting out the 2006 and '09 World Baseball Classic tournaments. Renteria hasn't played in MLB since 2011, but he is expected to provide leadership and a solid bat in the middle of the order for Colombia.
"To me, playing in these games is great, because I've never played on a Colombian team," Renteria recently told MLB.com. "It's going to be the first one for me, and it's so exciting right now. I would love to play in the World Baseball Classic with this team."
Colombia also features the young Solano brothers, Donovan and Jhonatan, and Rangers catcher Luis Martinez. Nicaragua's roster also includes Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera and Phillies Triple-A pitcher J.C. Ramirez.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.