Korea to host Australia and Cuba ahead of baseball classic

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Korea to host Australia and Cuba ahead of baseball classic

Korea will host Cuba and Australia in tune-up games ahead of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), officials said Thursday.

The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) said Korea will play Cuba on Feb. 25 and 26, then face Australia on Feb. 28. All games will start at 2 p.m. in Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, which will also host the first round action starting on March 6.

These three countries could meet in the second round of the WBC. Korea is in Pool A with Israel, the Netherlands and Chinese Taipei. Cuba and Australia are in Pool B along with Japan and China. The top two teams from those two groups will move on to the next round, to take place in Tokyo.

Korea has not faced Cuba at the WBC, but most recently beat the country 7-2 in the quarterfinals of the 2015 Premier 12, a new baseball tournament organized by the World Baseball Softball Confederation.

Korea defeated Australia 6-0 in the first round at the 2013 WBC.

Managed by the veteran national team boss Kim In-sik, South Korea will set up its training camp in Okinawa, Japan, on Feb. 12, and will play two Japanese professional clubs, the Yomiuri Giants and the Yokohama DeNa Baystars, plus a Korean club to be determined later.

The official WBC practice opens on March 1.

Korea made it to the semifinals at the inaugural WBC in 2006 and finished as the runner-up to Japan in 2009, with Kim In-sik at the helm in both years. In 2013, however, Korea failed to make it out of the preliminary round. The Korean roster has been decimated by injuries to key players. St. Louis Cardinals’ closer Oh Seung-hwan will likely end up as the only major-leaguer on the 28-man team.

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