-UPDATE: November 19th, 11:50 PM Ichiro has confirmed with Japan’s baseball officials that he will not be participating in the 2013 WBC. He stated that he appreciated being asked to play for his country again, but after the 2009 tournament, he always considered he wouldn’t play in the event again.-
One of the key players responsible for Japan winning the 2006 and 2009 World Baseball Classic, Ichiro Suzuki, may not be a part of the 2013 games. This brings the head count to up by one more as Japanese major leaguers Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers and Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki are also opting out.
One of the reasons is that Ichiro is a free agent and currently traded off to New York Yankees in July, from the Seattle Mariners team. Sadaharu Oh, a special adviser to the national team is of the opinion that getting Ichiro to help defend the title at next year’s World Baseball Classic will be quite difficult. If Ichiro stays in New York, he will have to consider preparing for the 2013 season with the Yankees over taking part in the March 2-19 WBC. Travelling between Japan and the US will not be a good thing for him at that time.
Last weekend Japan beat WBC first-round opponent Cuba 2-0 in an exhibition game. The team that played this match comprised of players from Japanese professional baseball. By the looks of it, they face the prospects of defending Japan’s WBC title without many of its top players from Major League Baseball. Pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma of the Seattle Mariners will not be participating in the wake of preparations for the 2013 season. Yankees pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, also a free agent, is also unsure about his place for the WBC.
[via Boston Herald]