The Czech Republic and China, considered the weakest in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), are dreaming of a rebellion. They succeeded in reinforcing their power by bringing in players with strong bones from the United States and Japan. Korea will face the Czech Republic (12th) and China (13th) in turn in the WBC Tokyo Round in March. They are opponents that must be caught unconditionally in order to advance to the next round.
Japanese media outlets such as Sports Hochi reported on the 8th that Yusuke Masago (29), an outfielder who was released from Softbank last year, will represent China at the WBC. Masago is of Japanese nationality, but his father is Chinese. He debuted in 2017 and had a career batting average of 0.219 and 3 homers in 6 seasons at Softbank. Although he did not achieve results in the professional world, his expectations were so high that he was once called ‘Uta’s version of Yana guitar’ 메이저놀이터. It is said that he was a promising prospect comparable to Yuki Yana Kita, who hit 238 home runs in Japan. In the U-23 Baseball World Cup held in Mexico in 2016, he played as a representative of Japan with 4 home runs in 9 games, and hit a solo home run to tie the game against Lim Ji-seop in the game against Korea. Masago, who is currently a member of Hitachi, a professional baseball team, is determined to return to the pros based on his WBC performance, so his motivation is clear.
The Czech Republic brought in Eric Sogard (37), a veteran infielder who played 11 years in the big leagues. Sogard debuted in Oakland in 2010 and played in Milwaukee and Toronto before being released by the Chicago Cubs in 2021. He is a utility player whose strength is defense rather than hitting with a career batting average of 0.246 and 26 home runs, but he also has a history of hitting 13 home runs in the 2019 season. He was nicknamed ‘Nerd Power’ because of his small body and wearing glasses, which is a little different from other athletes. The Czech Baseball Association tweeted on the 7th, “Sogad will make his national team debut in Tokyo. He is the only Czech player with major league experience.” Sogad obtained Czech citizenship in January last year. His mother was born near Prague, Czech Republic, and immigrated with her family to the United States in 1968 when he was 12 years old.