WBC players look to sustain success
Jose Reyes bounced around the clubhouse exuding his usual energy
and joked with a few teammates before putting on his Toronto Blue
Back from helping the Dominican Republic win the World Baseball
Classic, Reyes is eager to help his new team contend in a tough AL
East. There’s no WBC hangover for the four-time All-Star
”I don’t want to play down. I want to play the same way I
played in the WBC because the season is right around the corner,”
Reyes said Friday. ”I’m going to continue to work on my game and
be ready to go.”
Reyes was back in the leadoff spot in Toronto’s lineup for the
first time since March 2. He went 0 for 1 with two walks in a 1-0
win over Boston. Blue Jays designated hitter Edwin Encarnacion also
returned to the team after playing for the Dominican Republic. He
didn’t start against the Red Sox because of a finger injury.
The laid-back atmosphere at spring training doesn’t compare to
the intensity level of the WBC games where there’s so much pride at
stake playing for your country. While Reyes doesn’t need much
motivation, other players could take a little time to adjust.
”I’m sure it’ll be a little bit of a letdown,” Blue Jays
manager John Gibbons said. ”I’m sure they’re glad to be back with
their team. A guy like Reyes, he’s enthusiastic about everything he
Robinson Cano, the MVP of the WBC, returned to the New York
Yankees on Thursday, and picked up their only hit in a loss to
Minnesota on Thursday night. The four-time All-Star second baseman
is even more important to the Yankees now that they’re missing Alex
Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Curtis Granderson, and Derek Jeter’s
status is uncertain.
”I want to play the game the same way with the same
intensity,” he said. ”It’s a different mindset in spring training
than playing in the WBC. You don’t want to overdo it. You have to
go out there and play hard and prepare for the season.”
Tony Pena, the Yankees bench coach, managed the Dominican
Republic to the island nation’s first international title in its
third try. He stressed to his players the importance of working
hard and carrying their success over into the regular season with
their major league teams.
”We talked about them keeping the intensity,” Pena said. ”In
the WBC, they played with so much emotion. Hopefully they continue
the same thing.”
The Minnesota Twins had 13 players compete in the WBC, tied with
Milwaukee for most in the majors. Manager Ron Gardenhire hasn’t
noticed his guys lacking focus or playing with any less energy
”This is the big leagues. This is their job,” he said. ”I
think these guys love being on a baseball field. That was fun
watching the WBC. All of our guys had a blast, but they were
excited to get back to our club and get ready for the season.”
Many managers would prefer keeping their players in camp for
obvious reasons. No one wants to risk losing a key player to
injury. Teixeira, Hanley Ramirez and David Wright each were injured
during the WBC.
Another problem is lack of playing time. Some guys sat on the
bench or in the bullpen and had trouble staying sharp during the
WBC, so they have to catch up when they’re back in camp. This could
be a setback for players competing for roster spots or starting
On the other side of that argument, the experience of playing in
a world-class tournament can be benefit younger players.
”There are some issues,” Gardenhire said. ”Some guys didn’t
get in, didn’t pitch and they were gone for a few days, but we also
look at it like what a great experience it is being around some of
the best players in the world. Some of our young guys got to take
batting practice and take ground balls with some of the greatest
players in the world, and that can really help them.
”I’m happy for our guys that went and I’m happy to have them
Most managers ease their returning players back into the lineup,
rest them when their teams have long road trips and then treat them
as normal during the final days of spring training.
Tampa Bay Rays closer Fernando Rodney saved seven of the
Dominican Republic’s eight wins and had a 0.00 ERA. So, Rays
manager Joe Maddon will keep a close eye on him.
”We’ve got to watch him,” Maddon said. ”Yes, there’s a
physical impact. I don’t know how that’s going to play out by the
end of the year. Let him chill for a little bit and then get back
Granderson, a member of the U.S. team in the 2009 WBC, doesn’t
think it has much of a carry-over effect on players during the
regular season. He was with Detroit four years ago, and teammates
Miguel Cabrera, Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen also competed in
”When I came back, I got thrown right into the mix,”
Granderson said. ”We came back and collectively played well. We
had a pretty good season and competed in a very competitive AL
Central. I don’t think there was any major downswing.”
Time will tell if that holds true again.
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