2013 is already shaping up to be a better year for the Colorado Rockies. Under new manager Walt Weiss the Rockies have gotten off to a great start in spring training, winning four out of their first six games. On March 6, the Rockies will take a break out of their pre-season routine by scrimmaging Team USA and helping the National Team prepare for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
The first World Baseball Classic was played in 2006 and featured a round-robin style tournament. The inaugural tournament was won by Japan who defeated Cuba, 10-6, in the final. The second WBC, played in 2009, boasted a new double-elimination style format. Japan again dominated the competition, winning seven out of their nine games and beating Korea 5-3 in the championship.
In 2012, the WBC hosted qualifying tournaments for the first time in the competition's history. The qualifying rounds cut the participants from 28 teams to 16. The 16 teams that survived the initial rounds begin pool play on March 2. The countries that are participating in the Classic are: Japan, China, Cuba, Brazil, Korea, the Netherlands, Australia, Chinese Taipei, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Spain, the United States, Mexico, Italy, and Canada.
The first round of the WBC divides the countries into four pools consisting of four teams each. The top two teams ranked by winning percentage, in each pool, advance to round two. The top four teams from round two then advance to the semifinals where the teams play for the right to play in the championship game.
This international baseball competition will last from March 2 until March 19 and take place in eight different stadiums across the world. One of these stadiums is the Rockies' Spring Training home, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.
For the second time in World Baseball Classic history, Arizona will be hosting one of the first four pools. This year the Phoenix area will host the countries playing in Pool D which are the United States, Mexico, Italy and Canada. The four teams will be play games at Salt River Fields and the Arizona Diamondback's stadium, Chase Field.
Rockies' fans down in Arizona won't be able to watch any Rockies' players play on Team USA, but can root for former Sky Sox coach Rene Lachemann's brother, and former Rockies' staff member, Marcel Lachemann who serves as Team USA's bullpen coach. Colorado's star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki was slated to play with the United States, but pulled out in February due to his on-going recovery from groin surgery that ended his 2012 season early.
Despite not having any players on the United States National Team, the Rockies do have several players competing in the Classic. Former Sky Sox players, Jhoulys Chacin, Ramon Hernandez and Carlos Gonzalez will be competing with Venezuela. Hernandez is playing in his third WBC and in 12 games has 13 hits and three home runs. Hernandez's teammates, Chacin and Gonzalez will be playing in their first ever WBC.
Rockies' pitching prospect David Kandilas is also making an appearance in the international tournament. Kandilas pitched for the Low-A Asheville Tourists in 2012 and is representing Australia.
Venezuela opens Pool C on March 7 with a game against the Dominican Republic at 4:30 pm MT and Australia plays their first game on Friday March 1 at 9:30 pm MT. Fans who want to watch the WBC and cheer on the Rockies' players can watch every game on the MLB Network.
For updates during the World Baseball Classic and spring training regarding your favorite Sky Sox players, follow our PR department on twitter at @SkySoxGameDay or check out our blog at http://coloradospringsskysox.mlblogs.com/.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.