SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Team Venezuela has officially been together for just three days, but it looks primed and ready for the World Baseball Classic.Venezuela completed a two-game sweep in Surprise with a 6-4 victory over the Rangers on Thursday afternoon. The win came one day after an 11-0 win over
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Team Venezuela has officially been together for just three days, but it looks primed and ready for the World Baseball Classic.
Venezuela completed a two-game sweep in Surprise with a 6-4 victory over the Rangers on Thursday afternoon. The win came one day after an 11-0 win over the Royals for a team that had informal workouts in Miami back in February but just officially came together for its first team workout on Tuesday.
"We're playing hard, everybody is focused and everybody is on the same page," manager Omar Vizquel said. "We know there is a big prize out there for our country. Everybody is doing their best. The intensity is there with every at-bat [for the hitters] and every pitch with the pitchers."
:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::
Venezuela now heads to Mexico for its first game on Friday night against Puerto Rico (9 ET, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network). Right-hander Felix Hernandez will be on the mound as Venezuela begins Pool D play at Estadio Charros de Jalisco. Venezuela faces Italy on Saturday and Mexico on Sunday, with the top two teams advancing to Pool F the following weekend in San Diego.
"It has been awesome," catcher Robinson Chirinos said. "Everybody is working hard … we're playing good, pitching good, hitting good. We have a really good team. Now we have to go out and compete and make it to the finals."
The Venezuelans looked formidable on Thursday afternoon, scoring five runs in the second inning off Rangers starter Chi Chi Gonzalez. Carlos Gonzalez led off the inning with a home run, the first of six straight hits. Rougned Odor and Chirinos both contributed singles in the inning playing against their own team.
"It was kind of weird playing against your teammates here in Surprise," Chirinos said. "Everybody was saying hello before the game, it was fun. But we know what we have to do."
Venezuela had 28 hits in the two games in Surprise, which should be of no surprise considering the lineup options include Jose Cabrera, Salvador Perez, Victor Martinez, Martin Prado, Gonzalez and Odor, among others.
But Venezuela's pitching was good in Surprise. Venezuela led, 6-1, into the ninth before the Rangers scored three runs off Frank Lopez. He is not on the Venezuela Classic team. He was among several Minor Leaguers from Rangers camp who were used as late-inning substitutes.
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, 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.
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.