28/07/2021 - 07/08/2021


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Baseball Olympic Games 2020 - Official Payoff

Korea, Israel, USA and Mexico managers discuss compact Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament

Korea, Israel, USA and Mexico managers discuss compact Tokyo Olympic baseball tournament
The Tokyo 2020 event features 6-teams and 16-games, while the previous Beijing 2008 tournament featured 8 teams and 33 total games.

The managers of world No. 3 Korea, No. 4 USA, No. 5 Mexico, No. 24 Israel gathered at a press conference in Yokohama Wednesday to talk to media about their respective Olympic baseball tournament openers.

Media asked the four managers what they thought was needed to win a compact tournament such as the 6-team, 16-game Tokyo 2020 tournament, as the Beijing 2008 tournament featured 8 teams and 33 total games. Major international tournaments, such as the WBSC Premier12 and the World Baseball Classic, typically feature more than 30 games and at least twice as many teams.

USA skipper Mike Scioscia said: "The game of baseball may have changed, but in a tournament like this pitching and defence will be the keys.

Israel's Eric Holtz shared a similar opinion: "You will need to have good pitching, try to force mistakes and not making them."

Mexico's Benji Gil said: "We will focus on playing fundamentals baseball. We will need to create opportunities and not make mistakes. After the first couple of games, it will be like always playing game seven in a playoff series."

Korea's Kyung-moon Kim said: "Pitching, defence, hitting and base running will be important. What we are focusing on right now is playing united as a team, make great teamwork."

Mike Scioscia added: "We got here on July 22nd and have been putting together simulated games and high-speed drills. We are trying to get our guys accustomed to these surfaces. I believe there's going to be speed and situational hitting."

Scioscia also commented on not having Major League Baseball (MLB) 40-man roster players.

"MLB was very supportive during the selection process. We may not have today's star, but we definitely have players you will learn to know soon. Pitchers Shane Baz, Joe Ryan and Simeon Woods-Richardson, have great arms. You will see them in the Major Leagues."

Kyung-Moon Kim was asked about the 2008 gold medal: "If I think back to 2008, the fact it's been 13 years without Olympic baseball makes me sad. We have been preparing very hard for this tournament. We are ready."

Gil added: "Playing in the Olympics is a tremendous opportunity. We are so excited. I believe this is the biggest event in the history of Mexican baseball. Earning a medal would be huge. We tried to build a balanced roster. We selected players worldwide and tried to mix power and speed, young players and veterans. I believe that to compete, you need to have players who have been in big tournaments before. If a player hasn't, the Olympics are not the right time to get started."

Holtz said he doesn't see Israel as the underdog: "We are facing the world baseball powers because we should be considered one of the baseball powers. We deserve to be here, and we will not take the field to get beaten three times and go home. We will be ready to face whoever comes to the field."

Israel and defending Olympic champions Korea will be the lone game on Day 2, when they take the field at Yokohama Stadium Thursday at 7 pm JST.

Israel upset Korea, 2-1, in the opening round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the last time the teams played.

Jon Moscot will start the game for Israel. Moscot pitched for the Cincinnati Reds at the MLB level and helped Israel win the WBSC Europe Africa Qualifier posting a 2.25 ERA.

Korea is countering with right-hander Tae-in Won. The 21-year old rookie has started 15 games for the Samsung Lions during the KBO 2021 season and posted an impressive 2.54 ERA.

"He's very young, and I realize that he can be under a lot of pressure," commented Kim. "I also think he has been great all season and that he is very calm when on the mound. I think he'll be OK."

Tokyo 2020 – Olympic Baseball