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Taipei manager emphasizes balance

Lin evaluates Pool A competition for Classic's first round

"We have three games, so we have to think of balance," said Hua-Wei Lin. (Junko Kimura/Getty Images)

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TOKYO -- Chinese Taipei manager Hua-Wei Lin was quite guarded about many aspects of his team leading up to the World Baseball Classic, but there was one area where he was quite clear.

"We have three games to play, and we want to win three of them, but I guess there is a priority," Lin said on Monday at a Tokyo hotel. "Looking at all the players we have for Chinese Taipei, our first game is very important. Also, the game against China is very important."

Taipei's Classic opener is against Korea, which leaves Japan in the middle of Lin's "priority" games.

"It would be good if we could win against Japan," he said. "We will do our best. We have three games, so we have to think of balance."

Balance is the key in Pool A, as a 2-1 record in pool play would likely be enough to move to the second round in Anaheim, Calif., something Taipei's players see as a realistic possibility.

"As for the games, I believe we can come up with good results," infielder Ching-Lung Hu said. "I believe we can go to the United States for the next round."

And the prospect of fulfilling that dream likely hangs in the result of Friday's game against Korea. With Japan considered by many to be the favorite, most of the rest of Pool A is taking a playing-for-second mentality. But not everyone is.

"Compared to other teams, they are on the higher level," Hu said. "But there are no absolutes in baseball. We have a chance to beat them."

Taipei's strength is pitching, and it would have to be effective against a Japan team that has the potential to manufacture runs at will. First, however, Taipei has to go against Korea.

Lin is not sure who will get the ball in either game, on the record at least.

"Our starting pitchers are not yet decided," he said. "We have just been joined by some players today, and I shall look at the [exhibition] game tomorrow. After that, I will make the decision."

Lin also was tight-lipped about who would take the hill in Tuesday's exhibition opener at the Tokyo Dome against the Chiba Lotte Marines.

"The pitchers tomorrow will be the players who joined us today and some pitchers who have been preparing back in Taipei," Lin said, leaving the door open for virtually any pitcher on Chinese Taipei's roster to start. "I have to observe their physical condition. They have to get used to the venue. You will be seeing a lot of players from our team."

The Lotte game is Taipei's last scheduled warmup before facing Korea on Friday at 9:30 p.m. ET.

Stephen Ellsesser is a reporter for The Japan Times and a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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