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Four ex-Yankees already deep in World Baseball Classic play

03/04/2013 4:36 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Chien-Ming Wang threw six shutout innings in his first WBC start.(AP)
While the six current Yankees involved in the World Baseball Classic won’t begin tournament play until Thursday, there are four ex-New Yorkers playing or coaching in the WBC that are already deep into their tournament runs. All of those former Bombers are in Pool B, which is being held at Taichung Stadium in Taiwan (Chinese Taipei), and sees the host nation on top at 2-1 at the end of pool play.

The Chinese Taipei ace is none other than Chien-Ming Wang, who threw six innings of four-hit shutout ball in their tournament-opening 4-1 win over Australia, and 2 1/3 scoreless on Tuesday against Korea. Wang has reportedly been being scouted by the Yankees for a possible return to pinstripes, and should the Chinese Taipei team advance, he will have at least one more WBC start coming in the second round.

Currently tied for second in that pool are South Korea and The Netherlands, the latter of which is managed by ex-Yankee Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens, a native of the Dutch territory of Curacao who is now also the hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants.

Meulens has Hall of Fame pitcher Bert Blyleven on hand as his pitching coach, and among the numerous former or current Major Leaguers is another ex-Bomber and fellow Curacaoan in Andruw Jones, who has been the Dutch DH in both games so far and is 2-for-5 with three walks in a run scored.

Australia, which sits in last place in the pool at 0-3, has no ex-Yankees on the active roster, but does have one on the coaching staff: pitcher Graeme Lloyd, who wore pinstripes from 1996-98 and is a frequent returnee for Old Timers’ Day.

The final two games in Pool B were played in the overnight and early morning hours Eastern time on Tuesday, with Australia falling to The Netherlands and Chinese Taipei advancing despite a loss to South Korea.

Meanwhile, in Pool A, which is being held at the Fukuoka Dome in Fukuoka, Japan, the host nation and Cuba have already become the first two teams to advance to the second round of the 2013 Classic. Both sit at 2-0 through two games, and will play each other at 6 a.m. ET Wednesday to determine the pool winner. Early Tuesday morning, China (1-2) defeated Brazil, 5-2, to earn a spot in the 2017 WBC, while Brazil (0-3) will be forced to qualify for the next tournament.

There are no Yankees (or even current Major League) ties in the pool, but ex-Mets infielder Kaz Matsui is playing for Japan (going 0-for-4 with a walk and a run scored in the first two games) and Team China has ex-Mets manager Art Howe on the coaching staff. There’s also one other very notable name currently active in Japan as well, as Hall of Fame shortstop Barry Larkin is managing the Brazilian squad.

The top two teams in Pool B will join Japan and Cuba in the second round as part of Pool 1, which will be held March 8-12 at the Tokyo Dome, and the winner and runner-up of that modified double-elimination bracket will advance to the single-elimination semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco March 17 and 18.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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