March 11, 2020
MANILA , Philippines — With the coronavirus outbreak threatening to cancel sporting events all over the globe, it appears that the World Baseball Classic qualifier involving the Philippines will push through as scheduled at the Kino Sports Complex in Tucson, Arizona, on March 20-25.
Philippine Amateur Baseball Association (PABA) president Chito Loyzaga and secretary-general Pepe Muñoz will lead the delegation leaving Manila on March 17. The group includes 15 players and coaches Wilfredo Hidalgo and Keiji Katayama. Other players in the 29-man roster will come from the US and Japan.
The Manila-based players are Dino Altomonte of Muntinlupa, Adriane Bernardo of Muntinlupa, Erwin Bosito of Los Baños, Pablo Luis Capati of Muntinlupa, Alfredo de Guzman of Nueva Ecija, Junmar Diarao of Negros Occidental, Vladimir Eguia of Bulacan, Francis Gesmundo of Marikina, Romeo Jasmin of Nueva Ecija, Diego Lozano of Mandaluyong, Juan Alvaro Macasaet of Pasig, Juan Paulo Macasaet of Pasig, Carlos Alberto Muñoz of Muntinlupa, Miguel Salud of Muntinlupa and Jerome Yenson of Nueva Ecija. UAAP players Lozano and Juan Alvaro Macasaet will likely miss three games during the varsity season while they’re in Tucson.
Checking in from different parts of the US are Dominic Abbadessa of Los Angeles, J. R. Bunda of Hawaii, Brady and Riley Conlan of Los Angeles, Chase D’Arnaud of Long Beach, Menelik (Izzy) Israel of Murrieta, California, Andrew Magno of Ohio, Andre Mercurio of San Francisco, Devon Ramirez of Los Angeles, Peter Reyes of Benicia, California, Mario Songco of Idaho and Tim Tebow of Florida. Jonhil Carreon and Yuki Takayama will report from Japan.
Muñoz said 28 players may be rotated for each game with one designated as the bullpen catcher who will not play. Loyzaga said Philippine passports are not required for players to represent the country in the qualifiers. World Baseball Classic organizers will rely on PABA to certify Filipino lineage or place of birth. However, passports are required for World Baseball Softball Confederation, Baseball Federation of Asia and IOC-sanctioned competitions.
Los Angeles coach Bill Picketts will join the team in Tucson. Picketts, 51, was a former minor leaguer who now coaches Los Angeles Pierce College. He was in Manila for a week last January to observe the baseball team’s training camp at Rizal Memorial. Picketts is married to a Filipina, Eden Tampus of Cebu. Muñoz said Picketts will decide the positions of each player although D’Arnaud is expected to play shortstop and Brady Conlan third base. “I sense Bill will be a big help in improving the performance of our players,” said Loyzaga.
The Philippines is bracketed with the Czech Republic, Great Britain, New Zealand, Panama and Spain in the qualifiers. The format is a nine-game double elimination round with the top two finishers moving up to the 20-team World Baseball Classic next year. The Philippines opens its campaign against the Czech Republic on March 20.