The Brewers had 12 total participants on six teams in this year’s World Baseball Classic, down from the projected 15 on eight teams just before the tournament started.
As the second half of the tournament moves into its double-elimination second round, three teams containing players from the Brewers organization have now been eliminated. As a result, the seven players on those three teams will be returning to Brewers camp, if they haven’t already.
Mike Walker, who rejoined the Brewers earlier this week, led Team Australia in hitting, going 5-for-11 (.455), but didn’t score nor did he drive a run in. Australia had a thin lineup overall and was simply outmatched by the strong teams in their Pool. Australia’s early departure actually allowed Walker to report to Brewers minor league camp right on time and with a worthwhile experience in tow.
Next up to be eliminated with Brewers implications was Team Mexico. They were officially eliminated Saturday night once Team USA defeated Team Italy in Pool play. That set up the winner of Sunday’s Team USA vs Team Canada game joining Team Italy in Florida for the start of Pool 2. Returning to the Brewers already today were starting pitchers Yovani Gallardo and Marco Estrada. They each made one start in the World Baseball Classic.
Gallardo defeated the powerful Americans in his start, despite being limited to just 49 pitches per request of the Milwaukee Brewers. Yo was sharp and stymied the USA bats throughout his 3.1 official innings pitched. Gallardo called the experience of defeating Team USA something he’ll always remember. After there being some doubt about whether he would even pitch in the Classic — after developing some tightness in his groin before joining Team Mexico — that he was able to perform well must feel good.
In quotes to Jose Romero of MLB.com, when Gallardo was asked about the atmosphere and intensity of the WBC he had this to say: “That’s the way baseball should be. The fans locked into the game just as much as the players, rooting for their country. There were a lot of fans of Mexico from all over the place who might have come in for it, and we wanted to have a good game. Show them what they came for.”
Also to Romero, Marco Estrada commented on his WBC experience which was less fortuitous than that of his rotation-mate. Said Estrada, “It was awesome. I got to meet a lot of guys, a lot of people I never knew before. There’s a lot of good players on our team, and just getting a chance to meet some of those guys … I only played with them for a week, but you become friends with a lot of them. That’s the one thing I’m going to take from this, that I got to meet a lot of nice people.”
As for the relatively early hook? “The thing about the Classic is that you get one opportunity to show what you’ve got, and like in my case, it didn’t go so well. So that was it for me,” Estrada said. “The first thing, honestly I felt pretty good. I thought I was locating well. Wasn’t getting a couple of calls and then I started elevating. I think I started trying way too hard and that’s when I got knocked around. Once I got out of that first inning, I settled in and it was fine after that. But it was too late by that time.”
For his part, Roenicke is understandably happy to get his pitchers back to Maryvale. He was talking about getting Gallardo and Estrada back in line for their eventual turns in the Brewers rotation once the regular season begins.
Finally then, we come to the losing team in Sunday afternoon’s Pool D tilt, Team Canada.
The Canadians had the highest number of Brewers players involved (shocking, I know) as four players were participating on their behalf. Pitchers Jim Henderson and John Axford both saw action today, with Henderson bearing the brunt of the late USA rally to assume the lead.
All told, the numbers may end up being forgettable for Henderson and even Axford, but the chance to represent your country simply cannot be quantified in numbers alone.
Someone who will be pleased with the opportunity to represent country along with pretty good results on the field is Brewers infielder Taylor Green who ended up starting at third base in all three games for Canada after Brett Lawrie was injured. Green ended up at .286 after an 0-for-5 final game, but he hit very well in the two other games, going 4-for-9 between the two. It was a rough finish, sure, with the goose egg at the dish and a couple of defensive miscues (neither of which were really his fault), but overall the experience should be viewed positively. Now Green returns to camp in a battle to win the starting first baseman’s job entering the 2013 regular season.
As for Rene Tosoni, he never got an official at-bat, though his one plate appearance was certainly memorable as it was his being plunked by Mexico that incited the brawl which will be replayed for years to come.
So for the Brewers now back at Maryvale Baseball Park, the experience was a good one despite a lack of overall team success. Kudos to them for participating, for wanting to participate. Kudos to the Brewers organization for understanding what it means to represent country and countrymen and allowing them all the opportunity to make their own decisions regarding the tournament.
There will be five Brewers players whose teams play in the second round. Ryan Braun and Jonathan Lucroy are with Team USA of course. Martin Maldonado and Hiram Burgos will move on with Team Puerto Rico. And with Team Netherlands, infielder Hainley Statia has only gotten two ABs coming into today, but his team has enjoyed some success advancing into the second round and having an opportunity to advance again to the Semifinal Round in San Francisco if they can beat Team Cuba, something they’ve already done once in this year’s tournament.
Brewers participants and their teams were in action again all over the World Baseball Classic tournament on Saturday.
Here is a recap of the performances by those who saw action Saturday:
Green had a great day at the plate for Canada on Saturday. Starting at 3B and once again hitting second, Green finished the day 3-for-4 with a walk and three runs scored. That included two head-to-head match ups against Marco Estrada. Green singled in the first inning and grounded back to Estrada in the third. Green’s other two base hits and his walk all came against left-handed pitching.
Green also had one outstanding defensive pick at third when a ball short-hopped him on a ground ball. Otherwise, solid play in the field again from Green. Team Canada is missing nothing defensively with Brett Lawrie out. In fact, they’re probably better off.
John Axford – Canada – @JohnAxford
Axford worked the ninth inning for the Canadian contingent, shutting the door on Team Mexico and helping to keep his team alive in WBC for at least another night. That work came after the fireworks on the field which were ignited when Brewers farmhand Rene Tosoni was hit by a pitch late in the game. More on this in Tosoni’s section.
Axford’s line: 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 K, 0.00 ERA.
Rene Tosoni – Canada – @Tosoni08
Tosoni entered the game late as a pinch-runner and was stranded right away. He stayed in the game defensively in left field and would come to the plate again before the day was done. Tosoni was the target of some anger by Team Mexico. Already up pretty big late in the game, Canadian catcher Chris Robinson bunted for a base hit. This breaks an unwritten rule in regular baseball, but in the WBC one of the tie-breakers is based on run differential. After Canada was mercy ruled by Italy earlier in the tournament, Canada realized that they needed every run they could get. Tosoni was up next, got hit, and took offense to it. The catcher for Mexico kind of suggested physically that Tosoni should just go to first base and when Tosoni pushed back the benches cleared and a handful of individual skirmishes broke out. Luckily no Brewers were hurt and even though Tosoni’s plunking incited the brawl (where actual punches were thrown by more than one player) and Tosoni was ejected, none of the Brewers on either team did anything over the top.
Martin Maldonado – Puerto Rico – @Machete1224
Maldonado started this ballgame for Puerto Rico at first base, hitting seventh. Defensively, his night was uneventful. At the plate, Maldonado got two plate appearances before being pinch-hit for. In his first AB against Carlos Zambrano and Team Venezuela, Maldonado struck out. His second trip to the plate was against a relief pitcher and he worked a walked. Maldy would come around to score after being bunted to second base. He was driven home on a single by Angel Pagan.
Puerto Rico would defeat Venezuela and advance to the second round of the tournament with play in Florida. Also already moving to that Pool for sure are the Dominican Republic and Italy. Hiram Burgos will be eligible to pitch for Puerto Rico again in Florida.
Started in left field and hit third in the batting order once again. Braun came up in the first inning with Jimmy Rollins and Brandon Phillips on base ahead of him but grounded into a double play. Braun led off the fourth inning with a single to left field. He then scored from first base on cleanup hitter Joe Mauer’s double to the wall. It was Team USA’s first run of the night and at the time cut the deficit in half.
Braun came up in the 5th inning with runners on first and third and only one out. He hammered a ball that just pulled foul past the left field foul pole, and then struck out a couple of pitches later. Braun singled in his fourth at-bat and flew out in his final plate appearance of the day. He finished 2-for-5 with 1 R scored.
Jonathan Lucroy – USA – @JLucroy20
Lucroy started the game on Saturday night for Team USA behind the plate and was ninth in the batting order for Joe Torre. In the bottom of the first inning, starting pitcher Ryan Vogelsong threw a wild pitch past Lucroy which led to Italy’s first run of the night.
Lucroy’s first trip to the plate was a simple fly ball out to the center fielder. He would single past a diving shortstop in his second AB and eventually score on a David Wright grand slam. His third AB was a fly out to deep center and he finished his night with a walk. All told, Lucroy was 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Estrada started the game for Team Mexico a day after his Brewers teammate Yovani Gallardo effectively shut down Team USA over 3+ innings. Estrada was not as sharp out of the gate and he surrendered four runs in his first inning of work. He faced Brewers teammate Taylor Green twice, allowing a first inning single and a inducing a groundball comebacker to himself.
After the first inning, Estrada pitched well. He only allowed two more hits the rest of his day which ended after three innings and at 53 pitches thrown.
Estrada’s final line: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R (all earned), 2 K, 0 BB, 12.00 ERA
The World Baseball Classic provisional rosters were announced this afternoon live on MLB Network. They’re provisional because rosters don’t lock until February 20th but these are the names that you can expect to see playing in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Pool play begins on March 2nd.
Among those members of the Brewers organization who are participating are nine players who were active on a 25-man roster as of 8/31/2012. The limit from each organization is 10. The overall limit is 14 players from each franchise.
Brewers players will represent seven countries (and Puerto Rico) in the international tournament which began in 2006, was played again in 2009 and now falls into its every-four-years format.
Without further ado, here are the participants along with the team they’ll be representing in 2013.
Team USA (2)
- Ryan Braun*
- Jonathan Lucroy* (Twitter: @JLucroy20)
Team Mexico (2)
- Yovani Gallardo*
- Marco Estrada*
Team Canada (4)
Team Puerto Rico (2)
Team Dominican Republic (1)
- Carlos Gomez* (@C_Gomez27)
Team Italy (1)
- Jeff Bianchi*
Team Netherlands (1)
- Hainley Statia (@HStatia4)
Team Australia (1)
- Mike Walker (@Walk1988)
*-active MLB player as of 8/31/2012