Reds Director of Media Relations Rob Butcher is currently in Taiwan working the World Baseball Classic qualifiers on behalf of Major League Baseball. He’s been kind enough to document his experience for Better Off Red with posts and pictures. Enjoy!

The second day of team workouts was relatively quiet.  Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium is ready to go.  The field looks great, the crew is putting the finishing touches on the logos.  The Tawain bracket of the World Baseball Classic tournament begins Thursday with Philippines vs Thailand at 11:30 a.m. (Wednesday, 10:30 p.m. ET), followed by host Chinese Taipei vs New Zealand at 6:30 p.m. (5:30 a.m. ET). There will be another doubleheader Friday at the same times, then single games Saturday at 2:00 p.m. (1:00 a.m. ET) and Sunday at 2:00 (1:00 a.m. ET). Sunday’s final, for a spot in the third World Baseball Classic in March, will be broadcast live on MLB Network at 1:00 a.m. ET.

I had the opportunity to speak to Andy Skeels, the manager of Team New Zealand and a very successful minor league manager for the San Francisco Giants. It took me an entire day to remember, but it finally occurred to me how I knew Andy. He played for the Columbus Clippers when I was the director of media relations there a couple decades ago. We had a nice opportunity to reminisce about that 102-win Clippers team in 1992, a team that included, among others, J.T. Snow, Gerald Williams, Andy Stankiewicz, Dave Silvestri and John Ramos. That 1992 coaching staff also included one of my all-time favorite baseball people, the late Clete Boyer. The stories Clete told me about him, Billy Martin and Mickey Mantle were priceless. New Zealand’s coaching staff is pretty impressive, including former Major Leaguers Jay Bell, Steve Kline, Chris Woodward and Darrell Evans.

I made the mistake today of asking the teams for the starting pitchers for their first games. I forgot that in international play, announcing your starting pitcher before it’s absolutely necessary gives the opponent an unnecessary competitive advantage. I had a good laugh about it with Andy, who told his press officer to “have Rob ask me himself.”

After all 4 teams worked out, there was a formal press conference at the Chateau de Chine Hotel, followed by a reception for the players, staffs and their families. I did my best to capture the moments in photographs….

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