Not one, but two Miami Marlins are a part of the USA World Classic team this year.
Giancarlo Stanton and Steve Cishek will be wearing red, white and blue in a couple of weeks along with other talented players from around the country. Stanton, a power hitter in the league, knew back in the fall and has been excited ever since.
“I’m HYPED to spot U.S.A. across my chest in the World Baseball Classic,” said Stanton to The Palm Beach Post.
Cishek didn’t get asked to join the team until quite recently, but quickly accepted the offer.
“I am so pumped to be part of this team and to be able to have this experience,” Cishek told the Miami Herald. “It gave me goose bumps.”
Stanton got the OK to participate from the Marlins in December. “We would definitely support it,” said operations president Larry Beinfest according to The Palm Beach Post. The team also recently supported Cishek in participating.
A third Marlins player, pitcher Henderson Alvarez, is playing for team Venezuela. Alvarez is new to the Marlins after the huge off-season trade with the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Marlins said they prefer Alvarez doesn’t play in the classic. Manager Mike Redmond and pitching coach Chuck Hernandez expressed their concerns with Alvarez, but Alvarez is intent on representing his country.
— Jessica DeVaul
Although some coaches and players view the World Baseball Classic as a threat to the regular season, six San Diego Padres members thought the decision to compete for their countries was a no-brainer.
“It wasn’t really much of a decision,” reliever Luke Gregerson told MLB.com. “It’s a great opportunity to represent your team and your country.”
Pitcher Luke Gregerson was selected to play on Team USA for the World Baseball Classic beginning in March. (USA TODAY Sports)
Gregerson will represent the USA in the Classic and will have the opportunity to play against his teammate Chris Denorfia. The outfielder, who will be playing for Italy, is not a stranger to the World Baseball Classic.
“It’s a lot of fun,” second time pick Denorfia said to MLB.com. “It’s a reminder of how much fun it is to play baseball as an adult. Putting on the jersey and having a country’s name across your chest changes the way you think about a normal game on March 8 or 9. It turns up the intensity.”
Pitcher Edinson Volquez (Dominican Republic), infielder Jesus Merchan (Spain), outfielder Corey Adamson (Australia) and pitcher Mark Hardy (Canada) were also chosen to join in the Classic.
Manager Bud Black does not believe the Classic will be a problem for his players and knows they are in for an exciting experience.
“The guys I have been around that have been a part of it, enjoyed it,” Black told MLB.com. “It’s like an All-Star team, and All-Star teams are fun.”
The first round of the World Baseball Classic will begin the first weekend in March. Gregerson will face Denorfia on March 9 in Phoenix, Ariz.
— Danielle Ogozaly
As the World Baseball Classic approaches, Alex Rios (Puerto Rico), Jesse Crain (Canada) and Andre Rienzo (Brazil) will all be away from the Chicago White Sox until their teams are eliminated from the tournament. Infielder Andy Gonzalez (Puerto Rico) will make a fourth White Sox player in the WBC, but he isn’t in the big league camp.
This will be the third time Rios and Crain are playing for their countries.
“It’s something every ball player looks forward to, playing for your country and play in front of your crowd,” Rios told ESPN.com. “I think everybody should be proud. I am proud. I will be proud if I play. But it’s something that’s fun do to.”
To prepare for before leaving for the WBC, Rios has reported to training camp early.
Matt Thornton played in the World Baseball Classic experience in 2009,where he pitched in five games for Team USA, but has decided to turn down the offer for this year. Thornton said he loved the WBC and it was an honor to be a part of the team, but it was in his best interest to say no.
“Just one of those things that it was a choice I made,” Thornton said in an article on the Chicago White Sox website. “I felt with the workload I’ve had over the last four or five years and the way I felt at the end of the year, the way I was struggling in back-to-back outings, it was something in my best interest and the team’s best interest to avoid this year.
Rienzo will play for the White Sox on Feb. 26 and then has to fly to Fukuokato play in Brazil’s opener on March 2 against Japan. For Rios and Gonzalez, their first game is March 8 at San Juan against Spain. Crain’s first game is March 8 against Italy.
– – Taylor Ventre