Israel manager says S. Korea ‘formidable team’ at WBC

SEOUL-- Israel national baseball manager said Sunday his squad will be taking on a "formidable" South Korea when the World Baseball Classic (WBC) gets underway.

The two nations will square off on Monday 6:30 p.m. at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, the opening first round contest in Pool A. The Netherlands and Chinese Taipei are the other countries, and the top two teams after the round robin play will reach the second round in Tokyo.

At a press conference Sunday, Israel skipper Jerry Weinstein said he was "pretty impressed" with South Korea's performances in exhibition games in preparation for the WBC.

"It's a very well-rounded team. They catch the ball well and they pitch well, and they have got some power," Weinstein said. "It's a formidable team."

South Korea is No. 3 in the world rankings, 38 spots above Israel, which had to go through a qualifying round to join Pool A.

Asked if Israel was ready to face South Korea, Weinstein said, "We're as ready as we can be."

"We've done everything we can possibly do within our control, and we thought that the two practice games we played went well," Weinstein said, referring to beating two South Korean minor league clubs. "We got all our pitchers work, and we got our position players at-bats. And we'll get used to the playing surface and the environment here."

Weinstein also claimed he and his coaches "really don't have any concerns."

"When you're prepared, there shouldn't be any concerns," he said. "And you just play the game and take care of the game one pitch at a time."

South Korea has one active major leaguer, St. Louis Cardinals closer Oh Seung-hwan. Israel mostly has U.S.-born players of Jewish descent, including Monday's scheduled starter, Jason Marquis.

The right-hander, a 15-year veteran with 124 career big league wins, pitched in the 2004 World Series for the Cardinals. He is one of a few Israel players with major league experience, joined by first baseman Ike Davis, just five years removed from a 32-homer season with the New York Mets.

Marquis, who last pitched in the majors in 2015, said he was appreciative of "an exciting opportunity" to pitch in the WBC.

"We know what Korea is about. We had a real good scouting report that helped us put together a game plan, and it's really my job to go out there and execute," Marquis added. "But at the end of the day, I've got to go back to what I do, what my strengths are; pitch my game more than anything. I try to approach every game, the hitters have blank faces and I try not to worry too much about them."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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