Sunday, March 6, 2016

LMB allows players to represent Mexico at WBC qualifier

Reversing an earlier decision, the Mexican League has reached an agreement with the Mexican Baseball Federation, also known as Femebe, in which players on current Liga rosters will be allowed time off from their summer teams to represent Mexico later this month at the four-nation World Baseball Classic qualifier in Mexicali.  The LMB had previously delined to make players available to the Mexican National Team, which is forced to qualify for next year's full 16-team tournament after finishing last in first-round pool play at the 2013 WBC.

LMB president Plinio Escalante recently met with Femebe majordomo Alonso Perez after it became apparent that the Mexican team would be shorthanded with some Major League Baseball organizations dragging their feet on sending players to Mexicali for the qualifier.  After an agreement was hammered out and approved by Mexican League owners and managers, Escalante and Perez jointly announced that the LMB would cooperate in sending players to the WBC event at the 17,000-seat Estadio B'Air, home to the Mexican Pacific League Aguilas.

Mexicali manager Edgar Gonzalez, whose family has had their own past differences with the Liga, will serve as skipper for the national team when they welcome sides from Nicaragua, Germany and the Czech Republic.  The four-day even will open Thursday, March 17 with a doubleheader when Germany plays Nicaragua at 12:30PM PT and Mexico takes on the Czechs in the 7:30PM PT nightcap.

There are four such qualifiers scheduled this year.  Australia beat out New Zealand, South Africa and The Philippines last month in Sydney.  Panama City will host a qualifier the same weekend as Mexicali, with Panama, Colombia, Spain and France battling for a 2017 slot; Great Britain, Brazil, Pakistan and Israel will converge on Brooklyn for the final qualifier September 22-25.