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Warmup games, rules set for WBC


A set of special rules for the 2013 World Baseball Classic has been announced by tournament organizers, along with a busy schedule of warmup games for those countries who will play in Pool A in Fukuoka from March 2.

This tournament, under the rules announced Wednesday night, will be the first to take advantage of video replays for difficult calls on whether a potential home run clears the fence or is fair or foul. Another new ingredient in the mix will be having each inning from the 13th on begin with runners on first and second base.

Pitchers in the first round will not be allowed to face a new batter after throwing 65 pitches. That limit will be increased to 80 pitches for the second round and 95 for the final round. Pitchers who throw 50 or more pitches in a game will be ineligible to pitch the following four days. Those throwing 30 or more pitches or pitching for the second consecutive day will be ineligible to pitch the following day.

Manager Koji Yamamoto’s squad, seeking its third consecutive WBC crown, has scheduled friendlies against Australia, which plays in Pool B in Taichung, Taiwan, on the evenings of Feb. 23 and 24 at Kyocera Dome in Osaka.

On Feb. 26 and 27, the four WBC Pool A teams will take on the Pacific League’s Orix Buffaloes and Central League’s Hanshin Tigers at Kyocera Dome. The first day will see Brazil play Orix at noon, with Japan taking on Hanshin at 7 p.m. The following day, Orix will play China at noon, with the Tigers taking on international powerhouse Cuba at 7 p.m.

The show moves to Fukuoka Dome from Feb. 28, when Brazil will play the Softbank Hawks at noon and Japan takes on the Yomiuri Giants at 7 p.m. The day before the Pool A opener between Japan and Brazil, China will play the Giants at noon and Softbank will test Cuba in the evening game.

Japan’s games against Australia will end after the ninth inning, while the subsequent games will go 10 innings if necessary.