Fed City Flashback: Looking Back At The Washington Nationals In The 2013 World Baseball Classic
With the WBC qualifiers starting tonight, we take a look back to the Nationals’ representation in the 2013 event
Even though the Washington Nationals don’t begin spring training baseball games until March 2, there is an opportunity to watch some live baseball. Starting tonight at 9 PM ET, you can watch the beginning of the World Baseball qualifiers in Sydney, Australia on MLB Network or MLB.com as teams try to qualify for the 2017 World Baseball Classic. This is the first of four qualifying pools and the teams competing this month are Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and South Africa.
While there are no Washington Nationals players or prospects competing in this pool, it got me thinking of the Nats that participated in the last WBC back in 2013. In total, there were seven Nats Major Leaguers or prospects that took part in the event.
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These players were Eury Perez (Dominican Republic), Matt Torra (Italy), Roger Bernadina and Randolph Oduber (Netherlands), Adrian Nieto (Spain), Ross Detwiler and Gio Gonzalez (USA), and Jimmy Van Ostrand (Canada). During that tournament, the Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico in the Championship game at AT&T Park in San Francisco and Robinson Cano, who was the Yankees’ second baseman at the time, was named MVP.
Let’s first look at the Netherlands. In group play, Bernadina had two RBI’s in the team’s 5-0 win over South Korea. Two games later, he had a RBI single in the first inning against Australia as part of a 4-1 win that clinched a spot for the Netherlands in the second round.
The standout performance by a Nats’ position player in the next round was Oduber. Oduber, who was drafted in the 32nd round by the Nats in 2010, led the tournament with three stolen bases for the Netherlands. He had three of the team’s four stolen bases in eight games and all three came in the Netherlands’ 7-6 win over Cuba in the finals of Pool 1 in Tokyo, Japan that sent them to the semifinals.
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As for the two Nats’ pitchers on team USA, Ross Detwiler helped the USA keep its WBC hopes alive when he threw a one-hitter over four relief innings to defeat Italy 6-2 at Chase Field. In that game, Torra, who pitched for triple-A Syracuse in 2013, gave up a RBI single to Brandon Phillips and a grand slam to David Wright in a five-run fifth inning that ended up deciding the game. Italy did advance to the second round along with the USA.
In the second round down in Miami, Gonzalez threw five shutout innings, gave up three hits, and struck out five in the USA’s 7-1 win over Puerto Rico. The USA would end up being eliminated by Puerto Rico three days later as J.C. Romero threw 1.1 scoreless innings to get the save in a 4-3 win. Romero would sign a minor league deal with the Nats a week later.
Even though we are a year away from the next World Baseball Classic and the event does take place in the middle of spring training, I am a huge fan of this event because I like seeing some of the stars in the game representing their respective countries. For example, it would be interesting to see Bryce Harper play for team USA in 2017. Four years ago, he said he would play in the next event:
“In four years (for the next WBC), I’ll be there, 100 percent.” (h/t The Sporting News)
While it may take away from some of the time with the team in spring training and it does cut an offseason short, it’s a good way to watch international baseball especially with the sport no longer being in the Summer Olympics. Plus, it also allows a prospect an opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world.