Alvarado to start Puerto Rico's opener vs. Spain

FORT MYERS, Fla -- Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez named well-traveled right-hander Giancarlo Alvarado, who pitched last season for the Yokohama DeNA BayStars in Japan's Central League, as his starting pitcher for the World Baseball Classic opener Friday against Spain in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"We've scouted Spain and we think he matches up very well against them," Rodriguez said Tuesday as Puerto Rico tuned up for the Classic with a 4-3 exhibition loss to the Boston Red Sox. "He is very good with his secondary pitches."

Even though he is scheduled to start on Friday, the 6-foot-4, 211-pound Alvarado will pitch the first inning Wednesday against the Minnesota Twins in Puerto Rico's final exhibition.

"He's the kind of pitcher who, the more he pitches, the better he is," Rodriguez said.

Alvarado, 35, originally signed with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1995. He also pitched in the Minor Leagues for the Milwaukee Brewers, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, Los Angeles Angels and Los Angeles Dodgers as well as in the Independent and Mexican Leagues. He has never pitched in the Majors.

Tuesday night's starter, Nelson Figueroa, limited the Red Sox to a run on two hits over the first three innings.

"He did what we expected," Rodriguez said. "He is one of our best pitchers."

Figueroa, who is a non-roster invitee at camp with the Arizona Diamondbacks, will start for Puerto Rico in the Classic against the Dominican Republic on Sunday.

Jim Hawkins is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.