• Tue. Mar 28th, 2023

Rays say injury danger can not diminish thrill of playing in Planet Baseball Classic


Mar 18, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG — For the reason that there are no bullpens on the field or beyond the outfield walls at Taiwan’s Taichung Stadium, Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt missed the pageantry of Panama’s Planet Baseball Classic opener as he warmed up the beginning pitcher in a batting cage below the stands.

But he was nevertheless in a position to hear the very first handful of notes of “Himno Istmeño,” the Panamanian anthem. Then he had to pause for a moment.

“I cried for a tiny bit,” Bethancourt stated. “I got seriously emotional. And it felt terrific.”

Bethancourt is not the only Ray to return from the WBC glowing about the knowledge.

The smile on Wander Franco’s face Saturday morning in recounting his time with the Dominican Republic group was just as telling.

“It was absolutely a dream come correct for any Dominican player to be in a position to represent the nation,” he stated, by means of group interpreter Manny Navarro.

“I can not clarify it,” added Harold Ramirez, who played for Colombia.

Dominican Republic’s Wander Franco celebrates right after obtaining a base hit throughout the second inning of a Planet Baseball Classic game against Puerto Rico on March 15.


These feelings, and the memories, signed balls and jerseys the players brought house must serve as a rebuttal for these criticizing the WBC notion following the season-ending appropriate knee injury sustained by Mets closer Edwin Diaz as he celebrated Puerto Rico’s win.

“It sucks that he got hurt,” Bethancourt stated. “But I wouldn’t personally blame it on the WBC. That could have occurred anyplace.”

When the WBC may possibly not be common amongst fans in the United States — in particular when getting played at the exact same time as the NCAA basketball tournaments — participating Rays players stated it is significant to recognize how significantly it indicates elsewhere.

“I sort of agree with that. It is not a knock on anyone, but in particular exactly where we come from, our nations in Latin America, baseball is the major sport,” Francisco Mejia, who caught for the Dominican group, stated by means of group communications manager Elvis Martinez.

“In the United States, you most likely have several sports or other items to root for. It is an honor to put on your country’s jersey and represent your nation and your family members and mates. And that is the way we see it.”

Or, as Bethancourt framed it: “We’re representing our nation and we also are representing our households, our roots. For soccer they have the FIFA Planet Cup we have the WBC.”

The danger of injury to players is certainly the largest concern for teams, who location restrictions on usage, in particular for pitchers. But these exact same injuries can happen throughout spring coaching workouts and games.

“I do not feel that is fair to necessarily pin it on the WBC,” Rays manager Kevin Money stated. “I definitely fully grasp organizations wanting to shield their guys for the championship season, but you appear at the atmosphere of some of these games, they imply a lot to these players. There’s practically nothing incorrect with obtaining that variety of excitement involved in our game.”

Outfielder Randy Arozarena, who has played a starring part as Mexico sophisticated to the semifinals, has personified that.

And he emphasized the significance of the games when he stated his game-saving catch in Friday’s quarterfinal was larger than any house run he has hit, like in the 2020 Planet Series.

Mexico manager Benji Gil went additional, saying it “has to be the most significant play in the history of Mexican sports.”

Other participating Rays stated it is challenging clarify how significantly it all meant, from getting teammates with some of their country’s elite players to proudly wearing the colors.

Mejia stated he couldn’t think about any postseason atmosphere surpassing what they seasoned Wednesday in the win-or-go-house game they lost to Puerto Rico.

“I do not feel I’m ever going to really feel nervous once more,” he stated. “It does not matter the stage. I feel my ears are nevertheless ringing from all the noise in the crowd. … It is like you are playing in a concert or a thing.”

The Rays can not however announce Shane McClanahan as their opening day starter, nor can other teams name theirs, due to a league-wide mandate to withhold the news for an MLB Network unique on Thursday. … With Neil Solondz promoted to join Andy Freed in the radio booth following the March five passing of Dave Wills, the group will subsequent be hunting to fill the pre-/post-game host part. … Most effective wishes to former Rays communications managers Karly Fisher, who moved to player improvement in a travel/logistics part, and Craig Vanderkam, who joined Key League Baseball’s information operations division. … Prospect Junior Caminero, a 19-year-old infielder named up for Thursday’s game at Tropicana Field, place on a show in batting practice that had large-leaguers stopping to watch. … In spite of his most effective efforts to get Money to spend, ex-Ray Ji-Man Choi picked up the tab for a Friday evening dinner with assistant hitting coach Brady North. … In a Crestline survey of 1,000 baseball fans nationwide, Rays backers had been named eighth least annoying and 13th most effective-behaved. … A restricted quantity of copies of the Rays media guide, with a cool 25th anniversary cover, will be out there in mid-April at the group shop. … Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein reported on a thing the Rays (and most other teams) do for their players that the mighty Yankees do not: offer Online access on group flights for cost-free. … The new checkout-cost-free, grab-and-go concession region on the centerfield porch will be named The Shortstop. … In addition to upgrading the Tropicana Field major and side video boards, there is also a new graphics package. … Betonline.ag provides the Rays a 63 % possibility to make the playoffs, third most effective in the American League East, fourth in the league, 10th in the majors. … The Yankees are preparing renovations to their Tampa spring facility. Owner Hal Steinbrenner stated they had been concerned to be “falling behind a lot of other teams that have newer facilities,” citing the Blue Jays’ state-of-the-art complicated in Dunedin, and adding: “I’m not 1 that ever desires to be secondary.”

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