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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
Cuba selects 60-player Baseball Classic roster

Associated Press

HAVANA -- Cuba selected 60 players to train for the World Baseball Classic, with pitcher Pedro Luis Lazo among 26 pitchers on the roster.

All the players are "technically excellent and versatile," said Cuban Baseball Federation president Carlos Rodriguez, who announced the names late Monday.

Pitchers include Danny Betancourt, Adiel Palma as well as young talent such as Maikel Folch and Luis Borroto.

The offense includes current leaders in the island's National Series: Michel Enriquez (.442 batting average), Osmani Urrutia (.439), Yulieski Gouriell (16 homers) and Vismay Santos (16 homers).

Catchers include Ariel Pestano, Eriel Sanchez and Roger Machado, all known for batting power. Veteran players include Carlos Tabares, Yoandri Urgelles, Frederich Cepeda, Alexei Ramirez and Eduardo Paret, the current captain.

In New York, the commissioner's office said it had not yet received Cuba's 60-man preliminary roster. Teams must cut to 30 players five days before their openers in the tournament, to be played from March 3-20.

Cuba will be led by Higinio Velez, its head coach since 2001. Cuba won the gold medal for baseball in the Olympic Games in 2004, 1996 and 1992 but lost in the final to the United States in 2000.