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Venezuela looking to shore up Classic rotation

HERMOSILLO, Mexico -- At the moment, Luis Sojo is managing Venezuela's Navegantes de Magallanes in the Caribbean Series. And in a few weeks, he'll serve as skipper for his home country in the World Baseball Classic for the third straight time.

"It's a huge honor, for them to give me that responsibility and to have confidence in me for such an important tournament. It gives me a lot of satisfaction," Sojo, who manages the Yankees' Class A affiliate in the U.S., said in Spanish. "The end goal is to win that championship, which we've been looking for since 2006, and I think this year we're very prepared for that."

Offensively, the Venezuelan team is stacked, with Elvis Andrus, Asdrubal Cabrera, Miguel Cabrera, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Montero and Pablo Sandoval all listed on the provisional roster.

But starting pitching is developing into a concern.

Sojo said Tuesday that Red Sox pitchers Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales have bowed out, opting to stay in camp with their team all spring. The Marlins' Henderson Alvarez, per, is also likely out despite being named on the provisional roster. Mets starter Johan Santana, who has expressed a desire to play, isn't expected to get insured because he finished last season on the disabled list. And the Rockies' Jhoulys Chacin has the same issue because he compiled more than 60 days on the DL last year.

That leaves Team Venezuela without much in the rotation beyond Felix Hernandez, Anibal Sanchez and Carlos Zambrano. And in a pool with the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, that could be an issue.

"We have some question marks there [in the pitching staff], but we keep working," Sojo said. "We have until the 20th to finalize the roster. Offensively, we have a little bit of everything. Pitching is what we're trying to nail down to reach our goal and finalize the team."

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