A pair of White Sox players will officially represent Cuba in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Outfielder Luis Robert and third baseman Yoan Moncada are among those receiving special permission from Major League Baseball to compete internationally with the Cuban national team. The confirmation follows Francis Romero’s preliminary report in which both players said yes to representing their country if allowed.
In addition to Moncada and Robert, Cuban’s team includes three Triple-A players: Detroit Tigers outfielder Andy Ibanez, Oakland Athletics right-hander Miguel Romero and Kansas City Royals right-hander Ronald Bolanos. Former White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was also reportedly cleared to compete, but did not want to play in public.
In order to organize the participation of MLB players, Cuba had to get special permission from the United States due to the sanctions imposed on the country. Under the agreement, all state professional players recruited to the team are barred from entering Cuba to practice ahead of the World Baseball Classic. Despite strong opposition from the Cuban baseball federation to those leaving to pursue professional baseball, a list of 30 players for Cuba’s national team was announced on state television.
Although both Moncada and Robert have played internationally as part of Cuba’s national series, they will now be able to represent their country on a much larger scale. Meanwhile, the duo will look to bounce back from the 2022 campaign with the White Sox. Robert is hitting .284/.319/.426 with a wrist injury that has hampered his performance. Moncada also struggled with injuries and inconsistencies of his own, slashing just .212/.273/.353 in a forgettable season.
The White Sox are expected to feature many other names when it comes to the World Baseball Classic. Among them are starting pitcher Lance Lynn and shortstop Tim Anderson, who previously announced their intention to play for Team USA. Outfielder Eloy Jimenez and reliever Reynaldo Lopez have also expressed their desire to compete for the Dominican Republic.
For the first time in its history, the World Baseball Classic is expanding to 20 teams this March with pool play in four cities around the world: Phoenix, Miami, Tokyo, Japan and Taichung, Taiwan. The quarter-finals will be played in Tokyo and Miami, and the semi-finals and championship game will be played in Miami.
The United States are the defending champions after defeating Puerto Rico 8-0 in 2017 for their first title. They play in Pool C in Phoenix along with Canada, Colombia, Mexico and Great Britain.
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