Omar López will be the manager of Venezuela in the World Classic



CARACAS (AP) — Omar López, the current Houston Astros first base coach, was named Wednesday as the manager of the Venezuela team for the World Baseball Classic to be held in March 2023.

Aracelis León, president of the Venezuelan Baseball Federation, made the announcement at a press conference held at the headquarters of the Venezuelan Olympic Committee.

“For me, Omar López, is the most relevant assignment in my career,” López said in a video conference after his appointment. “The first thing I said to myself was ‘you can’t change, you have to continue being you.’”

López, who has belonged to the Astros organization for 24 seasons, 12 of them as coach of its affiliates, joined the coaching staff of the major league team in 2020.

López, 45, was a third baseman for the Chicago White Sox (1997-1998) and Arizona Diamondback (1999) affiliates. A year later he joined the Astros as a scout and remained in that role until 2007. He then went on to coach at the minor league level and landed his first managerial job in 2009 in the Rookie League.

In 2018 he was awarded Texas League Manager of the Year, when in his first of two seasons at the helm of the Corpus Christi Hooks, the Astros’ Double-A team, he had a record of 82-56 and qualified for the postseason.

In the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, he directed the Caribes de Anzoátegui for five seasons, being recognized as Manager of the Year in the 2014-2015 season. The also two-time champion with the Caribes returns as strategist for the 2022-2023 season, which begins in October, the team announced in February.

He also directed the Navegantes del Magallanes in the local league and the Águilas Cibaeñas in the Dominican League.

Venezuela — a South American country where baseball and not soccer is the number one sport — is considered an important source of top-tier talent for the United States Major Leagues, but that has not translated into a good performance for Vinotinto in the World Classic.

The lack of effectiveness of their pitchers, the defensive errors and the lack of forcefulness of their figures — partly due to poor preparation after months of inactivity — were decisive in the early elimination of Venezuela in the 2013 Classic after winning just one of his three engagements in the first round. In 2017 they fell in the second round after losing all three of their matches.

In the next edition, Venezuela was in Group D of the first round and will face the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Israel and a team that will come out of a preliminary phase.

The composition of the Venezuelan squad will be defined in the coming months but the expectation is to be able to bring together its main figures of the moment such as outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr, second baseman José Altuve, catchers Salvador Pérez and Willson Contreras and starting pitchers Pablo López and Carlos Carrasco, among others.

The best Venezuelan performance was in the 2009 edition, where they finished in third place. In the first edition of 2006, meanwhile, they also succumbed in the second round.

Luis Sojo directed them in the first three tournaments and Omar Vizquel in the last.





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