Rakuten Eagles rookie right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and Yomiuri Giants rookie lefty Norihito Kaneto were among 60 baseball players named Monday in the first group of candidates to represent Japan as it aims for a berth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Senichi Hoshino, who has been appointed manager of the Japanese team, expressed his full confidence in the caliber of talent ahead of the Asian regional qualifiers being held from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2 in Taiwan.
“We have a wealth of talent,” Hoshino said. “I am very confident that we will be able to compete at a high level.” Hoshino announced 31 players from the Central League and 29 players in the Pacific League.
The team includes 29 pitchers, five catchers, 15 infielders and 11 outfielders. Yomiuri had the most players selected with 10, while 26 players who represented Japan at the Athens Olympics or World baseball Classic have been short-listed.