Star-studded DR squad gives 1st glimpse of dominant potential

Dominican Republic earns lopsided win vs. Braves in first Classic tuneup

March 8th, 2023

NORTH PORT, Fla. -- was the first to stand up and speak. The Padres and Dominican Republic superstar shared his experience of playing in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, an event he often refers to as one of the most impactful in his career.

, who is a player and the general manager of this star-studded roster, followed Machado. , a player with 2,639 hits in the Majors who enters this Classic with a limited role, chimed in with some of the wisdom that helped him earn Most Valuable Player in the 2013 tournament.

The younger players on the team followed the veterans. shared some of his experiences, including his time representing his country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. and  also shared some words.

“Seeing everybody there together and spending time with each other and sharing stories, it was one of the best experiences of my career,” Adames told in Spanish. “You learn so much about the previous tournaments, and it just motivates you because you see how humble guys like Manny Machado, Robinson Canó and Jean Segura are. Those guys just motivate you to want to continue the Dominican Republic’s legacy.”

Tuesday night’s dinner in Fort Myers originally wasn’t supposed to be anything out of the ordinary. There were no special guests in attendance. There wasn’t a camera around. It was just a scheduled dinner, something that isn’t uncommon for a team leading up to the WBC.

But very quickly, as everyone looked at the names in the room, it became clear how special the collection of talent that will represent the Dominican Republic in this year’s WBC really is. And on Wednesday afternoon, the world got its first glimpse at the star-studded squad as the Dominican team beat the Braves, 9-0, in an exhibition game at CoolToday Park.

"[Bench coach Walt Weiss] said, 'Do you have the lineup card?' I said, 'Hell yeah, I’m keeping that thing,'" Braves manager Brian Snitker said after the game. “I’d like to have them sign it, a couple of them, after they go into the Hall of Fame.”

Among the many things discussed during Tuesday’s dinner was that each player will have to check their ego at the door in order for this Dominican team to win its second WBC title. Longtime shortstop Jose Reyes, who participated in each of the past four Classics, said that was the key to the success the country had in 2013.

“The chemistry we’ve already built is special,” Hernández said. “I haven’t spent much time with a lot of these guys before, but it almost feels like we’ve known each other for a long time now. The group is really talented, and now we just have to give it our best and hope to win it all.”

With a team full of superstars, finding playing time and keeping everyone happy is often easier said than done. This Dominican team, at least through the first two days, is making it look easy.

On Wednesday, Canó, who played most of his big league career at second base, was playing first base to replace Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who had to withdraw from the tournament last week due to a right knee injury. Adames, a star shortstop with the Brewers, was playing second base. , the 2022 World Series MVP, hit ninth in the lineup.

, who is one of the highest-paid players in the Majors, served as the designated hitter against the Braves because Machado, another one of the top earners in the league, plays an elite third base. Devers will be asked to handle some first-base duties, something the star third baseman has welcomed with open arms.

On the bench, the Dominican Republic had the likes of and , both of whom are considered the centerpiece of their respective franchise. , arguably the team’s best player, still hasn’t arrived due to lingering left calf tightness, but once he does on Friday, it’ll bump another talented player off the starting lineup.

Braves left-handed prospect Dylan Dodd got the start against the D.R. lineup Wednesday. He tossed two scoreless innings to start the afternoon. In the third, the Dominican squad erupted for five runs, capped by Canó’s three-run homer. It can happen in the blink of an eye with this lineup.

“After the second inning, I was feeling pretty good,” Dodd smiled. “I got humbled really quick.”

With this level of talent comes lofty expectations. The Dominican squad is the favorite to win the tournament. People on the island will be tuned in to every pitch. How this team fares over the next two weeks will ultimately determine how people will remember them. They’re looking forward to backing it up.

“It’s a failure,” said Dominican Republic manager Rodney Linares, when asked what would happen if the Dominican team doesn’t win the tournament. “I think we have everything that we need to have as a team in order to compete and win this thing.”