Puerto Rico, Venezuela Post Final Rosters

World Baseball Classic final rosters had to be submitted by Friday,
and Venezuela and Puerto Rico’s final rosters reveals why both are
considered significant factors in the event.

Venezuela, in
fact, ranks with the United States in both talent and depth. Among its
30 players are lefthander Johan Santana (Twins), arguably the majors’
best starting pitcher the last two seasons; 2005 all-star home run
derby champion Bob Abreu; emerging Marlins star Miguel Cabrera, who
will play third base; and all-stars such as Freddy Garcia (White Sox),
Francisco Rodriguez (Angels), Victor Martinez (Indians), Carlos Guillen
(Tigers), Magglio Ordonez (Tigers) and Omar Vizquel (Giants).

and Garcia will be joined by Cubs righty Carlos Zambrano as the team’s
starters. The Blue Jays’ Gustavo Chacin and former Astros phenom Carlos
Hernandez are the only lefthanders on the staff after Santana.
Hard-throwing Kelvim Escobar (Angels) and control artist Carlos Silva
(Twins) also are likely to log major innings, though the staff has such
depth that unlike even the favored Dominicans, Venezuela’s entire staff
has pitched in the major leagues.

Venezuela’s biggest
question mark appears to be in center field after versatile Orioles
star Melvin Mora declined to play center in the tournament. The best
candidates to play center for manager Luis Sojo include Endy Chavez
(Mets) and Juan Rivera (Angels), and Rivera has played just 17 games in
center in the major leagues the last two seasons.

Puerto Rico’s pitching staff turned out to be relatively thin, its
lineup should be stout. Future Hall of Famer Ivan Rodriguez leads a
contingent of catchers that includes Javy Lopez (Orioles), who will
play first base or DH in the Classic; Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and
Javier Valentin (Reds).

The lineup also includes Mets stars
Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado, plus infielders Alex Cintron
(Diamondbacks), Ruben Gotay (Royals), Alex Cora (Red Sox) and Jose
Valentin (Dodgers). Yankees vet Bernie Williams joins Beltran in the
outfield along with Jose Cruz Jr., Alexis Rios (Blue Jays), Ricky Ledee
(Dodgers) and Luis Matos (Orioles).

Righthander Javier
Vazquez (White Sox) is the clear ace of a pitching staff that includes
Joel Pineiro (Mariners), Kiko Calero (Athletics) and J.C. Romero
(Angels). Less established pitchers such as Fernando Cabrera (Indians)
and Juan Padilla (Mets) likely would have to play significant roles for
the Puerto Rican team, managed by Cardinals coach Jose Oquendo, to win
the tournament.

Puerto Rico Roster

Federico Báez , Fernando Cabrera, Kiko Calero, Willie Collazo, Pedro
Feliciano, Dicky González, Josué Matos, Juan Padilla, Joel Piñeiro,
Chris Rojas, Orlando Román, J.C. Romero, José Santiago, Javier Vázquez.

Catchers: Yadier Molina, Iván Rodrí­guez, Javier Valentí­n.

Infielders: Carlos Delgado, Javy López; Rubén Gotay, Alex Cora, Alex Cintrón, Eduardo Pérez, José Valentí­n.

Outfield: Ricky Ledée, José Cruz, Carlos Beltrán, Bernie Williams, Alexis Rí­os, Luis Matos.

Venezuela Roster

Tony Armas, Rafael Betancourt, Giovanni Carrara, Gustavo Chacin, Kelvim
Escobar, Freddy Garcia, Carlos Hernandez, Jorge Julio, Francisco
Rodriguez, Johan Santana, Carlos Silva, Carlos Zambrano, Victor

Catchers: Henry Blanco, Ramon Hernandez, Victor Martinez.

Infielders: Edgardo Alfonzo, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Guillen, Victor Moreno, Tomas Perez, Marco Scutaro, Omar Vizquel.

Outfielders: Bob Abreu, Tony Alvarez, Endy Chavez, Magglio Ordonez, Robert Perez, Juan Rivera.