Team Dominican Republic's motto this World Baseball Classic so perfectly encapsulates its first-round play you'd think it coined the phrase after advancing. The Dominicans' mantra? "Have fun and find a way."That's exactly what they did in pool play, leaving Miami with a 3-0 record after several late-inning celebrations. The winning
Team Dominican Republic's motto this World Baseball Classic so perfectly encapsulates its first-round play you'd think it coined the phrase after advancing. The Dominicans' mantra? "Have fun and find a way."
That's exactly what they did in pool play, leaving Miami with a 3-0 record after several late-inning celebrations. The winning is the "fun" part, and "finding a way" comes with it, like how the D.R. came back against Andrew Miller to beat Team USA on Saturday and rallied in extras to top Colombia on Sunday.
"It's nice to know we have a good chance, even though anything can happen in this game," third baseman Adrian Beltre said Monday. "It was a little more dramatic than I expected, but they were great games. Hopefully we can get the same here."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
"Here" is Petco Park in San Diego, where the team held a workout day Monday in preparation for the second round. Pool F play begins Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET with a battle of undefeated teams as the Dominicans take on Pool D champion Puerto Rico (watch live on MLB.TV and MLB Network).
Two teams will advance from a pool that also includes the U.S. and Venezuela.
It's safe to say the defending Classic champions are feeling confident after a series of dramatic wins in front of boisterous crowds at Marlins Park.
"You can play for many different teams and the fans go with the teams, but when you represent your country, the whole Dominican, it doesn't matter where you go," said slugger Nelson Cruz, who hit the go-ahead homer off Miller to beat the U.S. "They are going to follow you."
Dominican manager Tony Pena said this team is more balanced than the championship group from 2013. Six players from that squad are back this time around, including Cruz and reigning Classic MVP Robinson Cano.
The memories from that tournament inspired Cruz to play for his country again.
"The whole country was waiting for that moment. We love it. We breathe baseball," Cruz said. "We won the games we were supposed to win. The whole team did a great job of contributing when we needed. We are where we want to be."
"Everybody is here because they want to be here and they want to represent their country," Pena said. "We didn't come down here to just have a good time and skip Spring Training."
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 Tokyo Dome and 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.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com.