Puerto Rico, Dutch to play for top seed
Pool D winner will be determined in rematch of Monday's contest
By Will Gonzalez / Special to MLB.com
Both teams move to Round 2 of the Classic in Miami. The winner on Wednesday, however, determines the top seed of Pool D.
Puerto Rico will send left-hander Jonathan Sanchez to the mound against the Netherlands.
"Pitching here in Puerto Rico is what I have always wanted," said Sanchez, expressing his excitement to pitch before his countrymen.
Puerto Rico manager Jose Oquendo is expected to continue his rotation of catchers, despite Yadier Molina being the hero of the 3-1 win against the Netherlands on Monday -- much the way Oquendo replaced Ivan Rodriguez in the catcher's spot for the Monday game, despite Rodriguez being the hero of the 7-0 win against Panama on Saturday. Oquendo is expected to put Geovany Soto in as backstop on Wednesday. Rodriguez was the designated hitter in Monday's contest.
On Wednesday, Puerto Rico will not only play to become the top seed in Pool D, but also to retain its perfect record of 5-0 in first-round play in the World Baseball Classic. In the 2006 Classic, Puerto Rico enjoyed a 3-0 record in the first round.
The Netherlands come to the Wednesday game after less than 24 hours of pulling off its second successive upset win over the Dominican Republic -- an impressive come-from-behind-win in the 11th inning.
"Hopefully our guys can get some sleep and some rest," Dutch manager Rod Delmonico said after eliminating the Dominicans from the Classic on Tuesday night. "I know for me it is going to be hard to go to sleep, just from the excitement of all of this. We will get up in the morning, and tee it up tomorrow and see what we can do. We got our hands full, but the good thing about it is we are both going to Miami. It is a great place to be and it should be a fun game. It gives us an opportunity to play some players and maybe pitch the rest of our guys that are left. We don't have much left in the bullpen, but whatever we got, we are going to throw it at them."
Delmonico did not know on Tuesday night who the starting pitcher was going to be on Wednesday. He even joked about asking his pitching coach Bert Blyleven to take the mound for the team.
"I know that Bert still has a pretty good curveball -- we might put him in the bullpen," Delmonico said.
The winner of Wednesday night's game between Puerto Rico and the Netherlands will earn the right to play its first game of Round 2 against the second seed of Pool C on Saturday evening. The loser plays the top seed of Pool C on Saturday afternoon.