Cold DR squad faces elimination

Offense will need to get going against Team Panama

Manager Felipe Alou plans to mix up the Dominican Republic's lineup on Sunday. (Fernando Llano/AP)

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SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- The Dominican Republic and Panama will face each other on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in the third game of Pool D competition of the World Baseball Classic.

The loser of the game will be the first team from Pool D to be eliminated from the Classic. The winner will face the loser of Monday's 6:30 p.m. ET game between the Netherlands and Puerto Rico.

The Dominican team is coming off a surprising 3-2 loss to the Netherlands on Saturday. Untimely hitting hurt the Dominicans against the Dutch. The difficulty the Dominican squad has had scoring runs has frustrated manager Felipe Alou all week.

"I managed this team for the three games before the Classic," Alou said, "and it only batted in one game, which was the first game."

The Dominicans racked up 10 runs in a win over the Marlins, but they were held to one run in losses to the Orioles and Cardinals.

"In the last 27 innings, with today, we have scored only four runs," said Alou.

In those 27 innings, Dominican batters left 49 runners on base.

Alou will make some changes in his lineup on Sunday, but he insists that they are not a reaction to the loss against the Dutch.

"Jose Reyes will start at short," he said. "I will make a change in left field, maybe behind the plate. We don't want to press the panic button because another loss could eliminate us."

Alou said those moves had been planned before the start of the Classic because he is trying to give as many players as possible a chance to start a game.

Accordingly, he is expected to put Jose Bautista in left field instead of Nelson Cruz, and Albert Castillo will catch instead of Miguel Olivo. Reyes will replace Hanley Ramirez at shortstop.

For Panama, manager Hector Lopez made a change of his own. He will have right-hander Ramiro Mendoza start the game instead of left-hander Abraham Astencio.

Panama's lineup will be the same, although Lopez is not sure about catcher Carlos Ruiz, whom Lopez said suffered from whiplash when he fell while catching a popup in the seventh inning against Puerto Rico.

Carlos Lee continues to struggle at the plate in Classic play. In 2006, he hit .182. In Saturday's game against Puerto Rico, he was unable to get on base in four at-bats.

"Carlos Lee has to bat," Lopez said. "He is a good player. Sometimes you don't bat. You can't take a leader from the lineup. He is my fourth batter."

Will Gonzalez is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.