Altuve to represent Venezuela in World Baseball Classic

August 18th, 2022

CHICAGO -- Any doubts Jose Altuve was having about playing in the World Baseball Classic were erased Wednesday when Astros first base coach Omar López, who was one of the scouts who recommended the Astros sign Altuve as a 16-year-old in 2006, was named the manager of the Venezuelan team.

Altuve said prior to Wednesday’s game against the White Sox he will play for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic in March, meaning he will be managed once again by López, who was named as Venezuela’s manager by the Venezuelan Baseball Federation.

“I’ll be there for whatever they need of me -- on the bench or second,” said Altuve, who played for Venezuela in 2013. “It was a really good experience to wear a Venezuelan jersey, and I think for me it’s even better [with López]. We go way back. He was my first manager in professional baseball and I’m just happy for him.”

Astros pitcher Luis Garcia, who’s also from Venezuela, said he’d like to play for López in the WBC, too.

“I’m happy because I’ve been knowing Omar and he’s really good manager, really good coach,” Garcia said. “I’m happy for him.”

López called it the proudest moment of his career.

“I've always dreamed to represent Venezuela,” he said. “I think the whole success that’s been behind me, next to me in Venezuela and here in the states, helped the Federation make the decision between me and coaches that were interviewed for this position. I feel privileged to represent my country now.”

López came through the Astros system as a coach with Rodney Linares, who is now with the Rays and will manage the Dominican Republic in the WBC. Linares spent more than 20 years in the Houston system as a coach and manager, including managing Altuve early in his pro career.

What’s more, Astros bench coach Joe Espada is a candidate to manage the Puerto Rican team in the WBC.

López, who served as the quality control coach for Venezuela in the 2016 WBC, has been in the Astros organization for 24 seasons and joined the Major League coaching staff in 2020. He spent 12 seasons as a Minor League manager from 2008-19, including two years at Double-A Corpus Christi (2018-19). In 2013, he led Class A Quad Cities to the Midwest League Championship with an 81-57 record in the regular season.

After managing the Astros Gulf Coast League club in 2010, López was named as the Astros Player Development Man of the Year. He also managed Caribes de Anzoategui to the Venezuelan Winter League championship for the 2014-15 season.

Prior to becoming a manager, Lopez served in the Astros system in Venezuela from 1999-2007 as a full-time scout and as a hitting and infield instructor. He played three seasons of Minor League baseball as a third baseman in the White Sox (1996-97) and D-backs (1998) organizations.