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Published: Tuesday November 20, 2012 MYT 8:22:00 PMUpdated: Tuesday November 20, 2012 MYT 9:29:01 PM
TOKYO: Two-time champions Japan will likely miss their US-based players in next year's World Baseball Classic, local media said Tuesday, after mega-star Ichiro Suzuki announced he would stay away from the tournament.
The 10-time Major League all-star, currently a free agent, is the latest Japanese player plying his trade in the US to turn down the national team, the Asahi Shimbun and the Mainichi Shimbun said.
Japan, nicknamed the Samurai, beat Cuba in the final of the inaugural 2006 edition of the tournament and defended their title in 2009 against South Korea.
The World Baseball Classic is sanctioned by the International Baseball Federation and its winner is declared the "World Champion".
"Japan will likely stage their campaign for the third straight victory without Major Leaguers," the Asahi said.
The 2013 group and final rounds will be held in March with the gold medal showdown in San Francisco on the 19th of the month.
Other US-based Japanese stars including the Texas Rangers' Yu Darvish, the Seattle Mariners' Hisashi Iwakuma, the Milwaukee Brewers' Norichika Aoki, and free agent Hiroki Kuroda have turned down Japan's offer because they need to rest and prepare for the next season, Kyodo News said.
Japan manager Koji Yamamoto admitted the absence of the stars hurts, but said he will likely field an all domestic team in Japan's quest for a hat-trick, Kyodo news said. - AFP
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