China is to play Japan in the 2009 World Baseball Classic (WBC) on Mar 5, a 16-team tournament created by Major League Baseball and is held every four years. The team suffered three straight losses to Japan, South Korea and Chinese Taipei in the inaugural WBC Pool A games in 2006. But with the help of Jim Lefebvre, the then head coach, the team progressed rapidly and surprised the fans by a win over Chinese Taipei 8-7 in the Beijing Olympic baseball tournament which later won by South Korea.
Team China has been coached by Terry Collins, who had previously managed the Houston Astros, the Anaheim Angels of MLB and the Las Vegas 51s of the Pacific Coast League, after the Beijing Games. And the country now has two players at the New York Yankees and one at Pittsburgh Pirates of MLB. Zhu Dawei, a promising 20-year-old pitcher, is playing for Saitama Seibu Lions, which crowned the Japan Championship Series in 2008.