Lasorda promotes World Baseball Classic

Updated: January 11, 2006, 5:20 PM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- Former Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda thinks Cuba will be allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic.

The U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control in mid-December denied the request for a license to allow Cuba to participate. The license is necessary because of U.S. laws governing certain commercial transactions with the Fidel Castro-controlled nation.

Major League Baseball reapplied Dec. 22 after Cuba said it would donate any money it earned from its participation to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Lasorda, who led the U.S. team to the 2000 Olympic gold medal at Sydney, was in Tokyo on Wednesday to promote the 16-nation, World Cup-style tournament set for March.

"I think they [the Treasury Department] are just trying to stop Cuba from making money because of sanctions," Lasorda said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan. "Because they have offered to give their earnings to the victims of Katrina I think they will be allowed to play."

Lasorda also said he was disappointed that Japanese major league stars Hideki Matsui and Tadahito Iguchi won't play in the event.

"I know [Matsui] is a tremendous guy but I'm disappointed that he and Iguchi won't be representing their country," Lasorda said. "You've got to be patriotic for your country and I'd like to see Matsui play. He's a great player and the Japanese team needs him."

Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press