LAUSANNE, Switzerland -- The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC), the world governing body for the sports, unveiled the team rosters for the Europe versus top ranked Japan two-game baseball series scheduled for 10-11 March at the Tokyo Dome.
WBSC also announced on Tuesday that sportswear brand Asics has become the official apparel sponsor of the newly established "Europe" men's baseball team.
Under the sponsorship agreement, Asics, a leading sports performance brand, will outfit Europe with a complete set of official competition apparel, including uniforms (home and visitors), hats, shoes, belts, jackets, undershirts and pullovers -- and training suits and running shoes for the team's historic debut versus Samurai Japan.
"The WBSC couldn't be more pleased to partner with a leading, high-performance sports brand, like Asics, to help guarantee a successful launch of this new type of competition in which Europe will make its debut," said Masaru Yokoo, WBSC Baseball Marketing Director. "This is a great day for our sport and another key step forward that highlights baseball's rise and potential in Europe as a viable and attractive property."
As baseball/softball's popularity steadily increases in Europe, WBSC announced plans two weeks ago to summon the first-ever united European baseball team to provide an additional platform with which to raise the profile and showcase the brand of baseball in Europe.
The official look and apparel design for the Asics-backed Europe team will be unveiled next month in Tokyo.
World No. 1 Japan, under manager Hiroki Kokubo, will go with a 26-man roster that features players and national heroes from all 12 of Nippon Professional Baseball's (NPB) clubs, led by Hiroshima Carp and the Softbank Hawks, each of which has four players making it on the National Team. (See Japan's full Roster.)
Nineteen of Japan's 26 players were on the roster for the Japan vs. MLB best-of-five series last November, won by hosts Japan.
Europe's head coach, Steve Janssen (Netherlands National Team manager), selected his roster of 28 players from five countries (by world rank): No. 5 Netherlands, No. 11 Italy, No. 17 Spain, No. 18 Germany and No. 27 France. (See Europe's full Roster.)
The 2011 World Champions, Netherlands, take the honour of having the most players selected (15) to represent Europe, including 10-time Major League Baseball Gold Glove winner Andruw Jones, who played the past two seasons with NPB's Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles and played for the Netherlands in the 2013 World Baseball Classic.
Italy will have six players heading to Tokyo to represent Europe, including NPB's Orix Buffaloes pitcher, Alessandro Maestri, while Spain (4), Germany (2) and France (1) will also have a presence for Europe.
"I have either been their coach or have coached against them in international competition, and I think our coaching staff has put together a solid roster and talented group," said Janssen. "It's a huge honour and great opportunity -- and responsibility -- for our players to enter the stage wearing the 'Europe' jersey, competing against the No. 1 ranked country in the world in their home. This is baseball...this is what it's all about."
CPBL UMPIRES TO OFFICIATE EUROPE VS JAPAN SERIES
WBSC also revealed that umpires from the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL) -- a WBSC Associate Member -- will officiate and oversee the two-game series to ensure neutrality, highlighting the WBSC Family's shared vision to grow the sport globally and safeguard the integrity of the game.
NPB -- the second highest-attended major sports league in the world in 2014 (approx. 23 million) and also a WBSC Associate Member -- is the host of the Europe versus Japan two-game series.
Roster Team Europe:
|Loek van Mil||Pitcher||Netherlands|
|Rick van den Hurk||Pitcher||Netherlands|
|Juan Carlos Infante||Infield||Italy|
|Yurendell De Caster||Utility||Netherlands|
|Marco Mazzieri||Assistant Manager||Italy|
|Wim Martinus||Assistant Coach||Netherlands|
|Sidney De Jongh||Hitting Coach||Netherlands|
|Martin Brunner||Pitching Coach||Austria|
|Ben Thijssen||3rd Base Coach||Netherlands|
|Augusto Medina||1st Base Coach||Italy|
|Gijs Seldenrijk||Chef D'Equipe||Netherlands|
|Peter Meijers||Business Manager||Netherlands|
|Rob Tamminga||Manual Therapist||Netherlands|