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Israel, Korea set for Classic opening

Former Major Leaguer Marquis opposing lefty Chang to begin Pool A
MLB.com

SEOUL, South Korea -- Calling Korea "a formidable team" on Sunday, Israel manager Jerry Weinstein will need Major League veteran Jason Marquis to repeat his strong performance from September's World Baseball Classic qualifier in Monday's Pool A opener at the Gocheok Sky Dome at 4:30 a.m. ET (6:30 p.m. local time). You can watch that game -- as well as all World Baseball Classic games -- on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

"At the end of the day, we know what Korea is about," said Marquis. "We had a real good scouting report that helped us put together a game plan, and it's really my job to go out there and execute."

SEOUL, South Korea -- Calling Korea "a formidable team" on Sunday, Israel manager Jerry Weinstein will need Major League veteran Jason Marquis to repeat his strong performance from September's World Baseball Classic qualifier in Monday's Pool A opener at the Gocheok Sky Dome at 4:30 a.m. ET (6:30 p.m. local time). You can watch that game -- as well as all World Baseball Classic games -- on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

"At the end of the day, we know what Korea is about," said Marquis. "We had a real good scouting report that helped us put together a game plan, and it's really my job to go out there and execute."

Marquis, who pitched two scoreless innings in a tuneup game vs. the Korean Police Baseball team on Thursday, isn't a stranger to the big stage. The 38-year-old threw four shutout innings in the qualifier final in Brooklyn last September to send Israel to its first Classic tournament, and the right-hander has appeared in 11 postseason games, including three starts.

Video: Marquis discusses what it means to play for Israel

"We're very excited about the game against Korea," said Israel pitcher Josh Zeid. "We're looking forward to having Jason go for us in Game 1 against the host nation Korea. He's pitched for 15 years in the Major Leagues and has a World Series under his belt. That should set him up well to not be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the game on Monday."

Hoping to erase the sting of Korea's early-round exit in the 2013 Classic, manager In-Sik Kim has tabbed left-hander Won Jun Chang, who went 15-6 with a 3.32 ERA for the Doosan Bears of the Korea Baseball Organization, to start opposite Marquis. Chang started the 2013 Classic Pool A finale in which Korea prevailed over Chinese Taipei, going 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision. However, a run-differential rule proved to be Korea's undoing, with Chinese Taipei moving on.

MLB Network's Joe Magrane, who will work alongside Paul Severino for the games in Seoul, likened Chang's command of his pitches to Marlins southpaw Wei-Yin Chen and said that Korea's pitching staff will need to utilize pinpoint control and finesse to advance.

"I think that's really the pathway, because the hitters' hand-eye coordination is so good that some of these guys can pull a bullet, and if it's thrown down the plate at a 100 mph, you can still have the ability to time it," Magrane said. "I think the real art that they have to do to be successful is to have that add and subtract to upset the hitter's timing and to also have that location."

Video: Decker, Marquis discusses exploring Seoul

Capturing the opener will be key for both sides. With Israel set to have a quick turnaround on Monday against Chinese Taipei (10 p.m. ET/noon local time) and Korea hosting a very tough Netherlands lineup in the nightcap, a win could be a difference-maker. But both managers are focused on the first game and not taking the other side for granted.

"I've realized they are stronger than we expected," Kim said of Israel. "The team is stronger than I expected. Of course, as for the pitcher and the order of the batters, I think they are strong."

"We're pretty impressed with what we've seen," Weinstein said of his opponent. "It's a very well-rounded team. They catch the ball well and they pitch well, and they have got some power."

The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Chris Han is an editorial producer for MLB.com.

Israel, Korea