NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- The World Baseball Classic is just a few months away, and Moises Alou, the general manager of Team Dominican Republic, is confident his team has the talent to go all the way like it did in 2013.
"In baseball, anybody can beat anyone, especially in March," Alou said. "One thing we need to focus better on is, try to be in better shape than the rest of the world. That is something that we did in 2013. Some of our guys played winter ball. I don't see many of the guys playing winter ball this year. We are going to try to do something to have those guys be in better shape than the rest of the world."
When asked to reflect on the championship team of '13, Alou attributed the success to team chemistry. It helped the squad had Tony Pena as manager and Cano as captain. Cano, in fact, was named the MVP of the World Baseball Classic, while Alou calls Pena "an unbelievable motivator."
Alou also said that Cruz and Edwin Encarnacion can't be overlooked. They were big clubhouse leaders.
"Cano, Tony Pena, Edwin Encarnacion and Nelson Cruz, they handled that clubhouse really well. We had very good chemistry," Alou said. "That's the main thing I'm looking for next March."
To repeat as champions, Alou would like to have a productive bullpen. The Yankees' Dellin Betances is the only reliever who has been confirmed as participating for Team Dominican Republic thus far.
"We have the offensive weapons and the starting pitching. Hopefully, we can put together the best bullpen," Alou said.
The WBC starts on March 6, and games will be played in Guadalajara, Mexico, Tokyo, Japan, Seoul, South Korea, Miami and San Diego, with the championship round taking place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles from March 20-22.
The Dominican Republic will be in Pool C, along with the United States, Canada and Colombia, starting March 9. Those games will be played at Marlins Park.
This will be the fourth installment of the international tournament, which was first played in 2006. Japan won the first two iterations in '06 and '09, while the Dominican Republic won most recently in '13.
Bill Ladson has covered the Nationals/Expos for MLB.com since 2002 and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the Time. He also can be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.