SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's Tuesday morning on Field 5 on the Rockies' side of the Salt River Fields complex and Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is patting the inside of his glove with his fist.He's moving the dirt side to side with his cleats and pulling on the red bill of
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's Tuesday morning on Field 5 on the Rockies' side of the Salt River Fields complex and Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is patting the inside of his glove with his fist.
He's moving the dirt side to side with his cleats and pulling on the red bill of his blue Team Puerto Rico hat.
Alex Cora, Team Puerto Rico's general manager and Correa's bench coach with the Astros, stands near the third-base line and watches a slow roller hit in Correa's direction. The infielder races toward the ball, barehands it and whips it toward first base in one motion.
"That's it, that's it," Cora shouts. "It's just like shortstop. Do what you know how to do."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Cora's World Baseball Classic team is so loaded with star infielders that he plans on using Correa at third base, Cleveland's Francisco Lindor at shortstop and Cubs infielder Javier Baez at second. It's Cora's hope that this trio of infielders combined with strong pitching and a group of veterans like Carlos Beltran and Yadier Molina will propel the island to its first World Baseball Classic title.
The Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico, 3-0, in the World Baseball Classic final in 2013. Puerto Rico finished fifth overall in both the '06 and '09 tournaments.
• World Baseball Classic coverage
"There's not any selfishness on this team at all," Correa said. "We have a great group of guys and talented players like Lindor and Baez and other guys. I told them I have no problem playing third base. It's about playing and winning. We want to win a championship, so let's do it."
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Puerto Rico will begin Pool D play Friday, with Seth Lugo on the mound against starter Felix Hernandez and Team Venezuela at Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco in Mexico. Jorge Lopez or Hector Santiago will start the game against Mexico on Saturday and Jose Berrios will start their third game of the tournament against Italy on Sunday.
The bullpen will rely heavily on Joe Jimenez, Edwin Diaz, Emilio Pagan, Alex Claudio and J.C. Romero at the hitter-friendly park.
"We are going for the gold and we are expecting to win," Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez said. "We expect to go to the final game in Los Angeles, and from there, anything can happen. We are going to go pitch-by-pitch and one game at a time, because in this tournament a lot of things can happen. In 2013, we lost four games and still played in the championship game."
Expect Angel Pagan to start in left field, Reymond Fuentes to start in center and Eddie Rosario to start in right field. Beltran will serve as the designated hitter and Molina will be behind the plate. T.J. Rivera will likely start at first base.
"This is a great feeling to be able to share the clubhouse with guys you don't know normally [and to] have that opportunity," Beltran said. "We are all representing our country, Puerto Rico, and trying to come together as a team and find a way to play good baseball in this type of short series. ... I know the round where we are at is a tough round, but at the same time, we believe in ourselves."
As for Correa, he'll see action at third base in exhibition games against the Giants on Wednesday and against the Rockies on Thursday. He'll also play shortstop during the tournament.
"We want to win it all," Correa said. "We are not just here to have a good time and go back to our respective teams empty-handed. We are here for a reason."
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.