TOKYO (Kyodo) -- DeNA BayStars closer Yasuaki Yamasaki and Yomiuri Giants starting pitcher Kazuto Taguchi were among 25 players named on Thursday to represent Japan in next month's Asia Professional Baseball Championship.
"As the hosts, we can't afford to lose," new Japan manager Atsunori Inaba told a press conference in Tokyo. "I want to show our Asian rivals how strong Japan is."
The tournament between Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, is a step for the three nations in their pursuit of Olympic hardware at the Tokyo 2020 games. All but three players on each squad will need to be under the age of 24 with three or fewer pro seasons under their belts.
The games will be played between Nov. 16 and 19 at Tokyo Dome with a final being held between the top two teams after a three-game round robin.
Inaba named five rookies to his team, including shortstops Sosuke Genda of the Seibu Lions and Yota Kyoda of the Chunichi Dragons.
"I'm happy to be included," said Genda, who leads all Pacific League shortstops in putouts, assists and double plays. "I don't intend to do anything differently from what I do during the season."
"I will try my hardest to do my part."
Japan's three "overage" players are 24-year-old SoftBank Hawks catcher Takuya Kai, 25-year-old Seibu Lions first baseman Hotaka Yamakawa and 26-year-old Dragons reliever Katsuki Matayoshi.