Japan names early WBC roster

Updated: December 15, 2008, 8:46 AM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners and Daisuke Matsuzaka of the Boston Red Sox were among seven major league players named Monday to a 34-man preliminary roster for Japan's team at the 2009 World Baseball Classic.

Other major league players named to the provisional squad by manager Tatsunori Hara were Kenji Johjima of the Mariners, Hiroki Kuroda of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Akinori Iwamura of the Tampa Bay Rays and free agent relief pitcher Takashi Saito.

Kosuke Fukudome of the Chicago Cubs was also on the list but New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui, who is recovering from a knee injury, was not included.

Japan won the inaugural WBC in 2006 and will defend its title in the 2009 tournament which begins on March 5 in Tokyo.

Notable players from Japan's professional leagues included on the squad are pitcher Yu Darvish of the Nippon Ham Fighters and 21-game winner Hisashi Iwakuma of the Rakuten Eagles.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press