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Japan hopes to win World Baseball Classic 2023

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After a six-year hiatus, the World Baseball Classic will return this March and Team Japan is hoping to come out on top for the first time in three tournaments.

The WBC was scheduled to be held in 2021, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It last took place in 2017.

Japan won in 2006 and 2009, but finished third in 2013 and 2017.

Team Japan, which is in Pool B, will play against China on March 9, South Korea on March 10, the Czech Republic on March 11 and Australia on March 12. These games will be at Tokyo Dome.

The names of the 30 players on the national team have not been released yet, but Ohtani Shohei of the Los Angeles Angels, Darvish Yu of the San Diego Padres and Suzuki Seiya of the Chicago Cubs have already expressed their wish to play on the team.

Sources tell NHK that Murakami Munetaka of the Tokyo Yakult Swallows has been chosen for the roster.

Murakami hit 56 home runs last season, setting the new record for a Japanese player. He earned the Triple Crown of batting average, runs batted in, and home runs in the Central League.

The national team’s manager Kuriyama Hideki plans to announce the members by the end of January and start training camp on February 17.

Ohtani’s teammate in the LA Angels, Mike Trout, will be leading Team USA as the captain and many other Major League players are expected to play in the tournament.