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World Baseball Classic

Arenado basking in glow of WBC '17 victory

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado was reveling in the closeness of Team USA's World Baseball Classic-champion squad. But Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, also back with his club, sent a reminder that they're National League West rivals.

With two down and bases empty in the fifth inning of the Rockies' 6-5 loss, Crawford attempted to bunt toward third. Arenado shot a disapproving look to the batter's box.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado was reveling in the closeness of Team USA's World Baseball Classic-champion squad. But Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford, also back with his club, sent a reminder that they're National League West rivals.

With two down and bases empty in the fifth inning of the Rockies' 6-5 loss, Crawford attempted to bunt toward third. Arenado shot a disapproving look to the batter's box.

"I didn't like that, it made me kinda mad … I'm gonna text him," Arenado said, before a wide smile returned to his face. "But he smiled and said, 'I'm trying to keep you on your toes.' He's the man. I really enjoyed playing with him."

Arenado, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI double against the Giants, had well-documented struggles in the Classic -- a .161 batting average that included six straight strikeouts over the semifinal victory over Japan and the first two plate appearances in the 8-0 title victory over Puerto Rico. But he finished with two singles, both of which set up rallies. 

Video: SF@COL: Arenado pulls RBI double down left-field line

The numbers, which in the grand scheme of the Rockies' season are as meaningful as Spring Training stats, didn't dampen the value of the passionate atmosphere.

Before the event, Arenado said he hoped it could help prepare him for future playoffs. He'd like to pass some of the deeper lessons to his Rockies teammates.

"Maybe one day if we have a meeting, maybe I'll say something about it," Arenado said. "The thing with that team was, everybody was an All-Star -- star players. But we came together, everybody was pushing each other, and wanting to do their job. Nobody's ego got in the way about playing time, or, 'I want to pitch this inning,' or, 'I want to close.' It was, 'I want to help the team win any way I can.'

"I'd do it again in a heartbeat."

Video: USA@PUR: Error, single nets a run for USA in 8th

Without his best swing, Arenado found solace in finding a way to do something positive. The at-bat before his hit in the final, he attempted to bunt for a hit or advance a runner. It didn't work, but he stepped outside his power-hitting mindset to attempt a team-oriented play.

"The games we lost, it hurt me more at night because I felt I didn't do my part the way I should have or could have," Arenado said. "But when you win, it takes it all away.

"Those guys, they were awesome. They knew I was grinding. They were picking me up. We were talking hitting. Every one of those guys and the coaches were first-class.

"But it's funny. The last game I got a couple of knocks. That's the only game I remember now."

Worth noting

• Rockies manager Bud Black played left fielder Gerardo Parra at first base against the Giants. Black said he'd like to have that option with Parra, who could spell Mark Reynolds while Ian Desmond is out for at least the first half of April with a broken left hand.

Parra playing occasionally at first could also open some roster possibilities for a utility spot. Lefty-hitting Jordan Patterson and righty-hitting Stephen Cardullo play first base and the corner outfield spots. And with Pat Valaika and Cristhian Adames playing second, third and shortstop, they would not have to play first if Parra does.

• Lefty Chris Rusin threw his second bullpen session in his comeback from an oblique strain, and could face hitters Sunday, and return to game action next week.

• Righty Chad Qualls, who has a right forearm strain, will throw a bullpen session Saturday and possibly could pitch in games next week.

• Outfielder David Dahl, out with a stress reaction in a rib, is increasing upper-body work. If the next bone scans show positive news, he could be swinging a bat in a couple weeks.

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page.

 

United States, Colorado Rockies, Nolan Arenado

Classic shined spotlight on Crawford's ability

MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford gained attention and acclaim during the World Baseball Classic in the best way possible.

He played his usual game.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants shortstop Brandon Crawford gained attention and acclaim during the World Baseball Classic in the best way possible.

He played his usual game.

While helping the United States win the international tournament, Crawford announced his presence to a large segment of the baseball-viewing public that was unaware of his considerable skill. Multitudes of fans in the Central and Eastern time zones simply can't stay awake for Giants home night games. And many others simply might be unaware that the 30-year-old has won two Gold Glove Awards and a Silver Slugger trophy.

Now the secret's out. Crawford ranks among the most dynamic all-around performers in baseball, which he proved by batting .385 in eight Classic games while making every fielding play possible.

Tweet from @SFGiants: Welcome back, champs! pic.twitter.com/zUMbX5zlnm

The increase in recognition for Crawford during the WBC '17 was almost palpable. It certainly seemed that way to catcher Buster Posey, who rejoined the Giants on Friday along with Crawford and closer Mark Melancon. "All of us know how good he is," Posey said. "I think a lot of guys on the [U.S.] team left with a different appreciation of him."

Some of baseball's biggest names took to social media to pay homage to Crawford. Tweeted Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria, "Yessir! @bcraw35 showing that gold off at SS too!" Retired slugger Alex Rodriguez -- who, by the way, was among Crawford's favorite players as a youth, wrote on Twitter, "@bcraw35 is showing why he's a 2X world champ." 

Tweet from @Evan3Longoria: Yessir! @bcraw35 showing that gold off at SS too!

Crawford accepted the praise in typically calm fashion. "It's not like I sit there and think about it," he said, "but it is cool to see that."

Posey and Crawford easily switched their focus toward preparing for the National League season. "I'm ready for some Cactus League games," Posey crowed. Each went 1-for-3 in the Giants' 6-5 victory over Colorado. Posey doubled and scored a run; Crawford drove him in.

Video: SF@COL: Crawford knocks RBI single into right

Posey and Crawford relished the WBC '17 experience enough to want to participate in it again. Both tried to keep the tourney in its proper perspective.

Borrowing the logic of the Rangers' Jonathan Lucroy, who shared catching duties on the U.S. team with Posey, Crawford compared the games to a combination of the All-Star Game and postseason -- with an emphasis on the former, which is essentially an exhibition.

"It's as big of games that you can get in March," Crawford said. "But it's still March."

Video: Posey on unique atmosphere at the Classic

Begging Posey to excuse the corniness, a reporter asked Posey how proud he felt to bring home a gold medal. Posey didn't hesitate to respond.

"I know it gets beaten into the ground, but there is a certain amount of pride when you have your country's name across your chest," he said. "It's an interesting vibe or feeling that you all get as Americans when you play together, and represent your country. A lot of us come from different parts of the country and come together to play a game we've all played since [we were] children.

"It's America's pastime."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

 

United States, San Francisco Giants, Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey

Stanton, Yelich return, riding Classic wave

Both players say tournament experience was exhilarating
MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Riding the adrenaline of winning the World Baseball Classic title, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton returned to Marlins camp on Friday ready for the next step -- the regular season.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly gave both players a day to recover, but they are expected to be back in the lineup Saturday against the Cardinals.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Riding the adrenaline of winning the World Baseball Classic title, Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton returned to Marlins camp on Friday ready for the next step -- the regular season.

Marlins manager Don Mattingly gave both players a day to recover, but they are expected to be back in the lineup Saturday against the Cardinals.

Yelich and Stanton were regulars for Team USA, which defeated Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the championship game on Wednesday at Dodger Stadium.

Spring Training: Information | Tickets | Schedule | Gear

"It was a playoff atmosphere," said Yelich, who was selected to the All-Tournament team. "Guys on the team who had been in the playoffs and World Series said that's what it's like."

Yelich and Stanton each brought their gear back to Spring Training in a Team USA duffle bag.

Yelich had a jersey that was signed by all the players on Team USA.

Video: USA@PUR: Yelich on thrill of playing for Team USA

Both Stanton and Yelich agreed the World Baseball Classic experience was the most fun they've ever had on a baseball field.

"Absolutely. Absolutely," Stanton said. "Besides being in Little League and wearing my jersey all day for a doubleheader. Yeah, for sure."

Video: USA@PUR: Stanton knocks in a run with single in 7th

Yelich carried his championship medal in his pocket, not wanting to risk packing it.

"I didn't want to put it in my luggage," Yelich said. "I didn't want to put it in my backpack. I had sweatpants on with a zip-up pocket. Just put it in there for the whole cross-country flight. Reaching to see if it is still there."

Being around a collection of All-Stars also raised the profiles of both Marlins outfielders. Stanton and Yelich are looking to feed off the experience.

"Just the atmosphere," Stanton said. "Being around so many future Hall of Famers, All-Stars, MVPs. Seeing their work for two weeks, and just the atmosphere that all the countries brought. Everyone came and represented their country and represented their talent to show on the field in whichever way they thought was fit. I loved it."

Video: USA@DOM: Statcast™ measures Stanton's colossal homer

The games were played with high emotion, and Yelich and Stanton each found themselves expressing themselves more on the field than they would during the regular season.

"There's so much on the line, and you care so much," Yelich said. "You want to do well for your teammates and your country. The atmosphere in those games is unbelievable. For both sides. It's really unlike anything I've ever seen in baseball."

Worth noting: The Marlins made four roster moves before Friday night's game. Right-handers Scott Copeland, Stephen Fife and Javy Guerra, along with lefty Kelvin Marte were assigned to Minor League camp.

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

 

United States, Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich

Back from Classic, Miller has lot of work to do

Tribe's lefty relief ace fine-tuning fastball, slider
MLB.com

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Andrew Miller returned to Arizona with a strong sense of pride over Team USA's championship run in the World Baseball Classic. The Indians' lefty relief ace also rejoined Cleveland's camp unsatisfied with how he has thrown the ball over the past two weeks.

Over the remaining days of Spring Training, Miller plans on fine-tuning his fastball and slider in preparation for the season. Manager Terry Francona noted that he may have Miller pitch in some Minor League games to provide a more controlled setting for him to get in some specific work.

Full Game Coverage

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Andrew Miller returned to Arizona with a strong sense of pride over Team USA's championship run in the World Baseball Classic. The Indians' lefty relief ace also rejoined Cleveland's camp unsatisfied with how he has thrown the ball over the past two weeks.

Over the remaining days of Spring Training, Miller plans on fine-tuning his fastball and slider in preparation for the season. Manager Terry Francona noted that he may have Miller pitch in some Minor League games to provide a more controlled setting for him to get in some specific work.

Full Game Coverage

That environment will certainly be a change from the raucous Classic crowds.

"The intensity of the games is little more than you're used to this time of year," Miller said Friday morning. "Overall, it was a good experience. It's time to get back here and get to work and sort things out and get ready for the season."

Video: 30 Clubs in 30 Days: Miller on 2017 outlook, bullpen

During his stint with Team USA, which defeated Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic title game, Miller appeared in four games and logged 2 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs (all coming in his round-one outing against the Dominican Republic) on three hits, ending with five strikeouts and one walk. In the two outings with PITCHf/x data, Miller averaged 93.3 mph with his fastball and 83.3 mph with his slider.

Before leaving camp for the Classic, Miller got work in four Cactus League games, in which he allowed three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts and a walk. He focused on fastballs early, but then ramped up his work on his slider, given that the Classic would be a more competitive environment.

Miller said he is looking forward to fine-tuning his pitches in the days leading up to Opening Day.

"I think inning-wise I'm right where I'd normally be," said Miller, who had a 1.45 ERA with 123 strikeouts against nine walks in 74 1/3 innings last season. "I've got some work to do. I really didn't feel as sharp as I wanted to, but that's probably pretty common for this time of year in Spring Training. It's just, we're playing in games that are meaningful, where the results really truly matter. It changes that a little bit.

"There's still plenty of time. Even if that experience changes the way you get your work in for the start of the season, I think it was still worth it."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and listen to his podcast.

 

Cleveland Indians, Andrew Miller

Goldschmidt praises WBC 2017 experience

D-backs slugger says he will be ready for Opening Day
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In some ways, it didn't take first baseman Paul Goldschmidt long to get back into the swing of things when he returned to D-backs camp on Friday after helping Team USA to its first World Baseball Classic championship, but it did take him a while to get into his locker thanks to teammate David Peralta.

While he was with Team USA, Goldschmidt did an interview with MLB Network's Intentional Talk and playfully took some shots at Peralta's social media presence. Peralta responded by using athletic tape to seal Goldschmidt's locker. He added a life-sized cloth photo of Goldschmidt over the top of the tape and then plastered it with pictures of himself.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- In some ways, it didn't take first baseman Paul Goldschmidt long to get back into the swing of things when he returned to D-backs camp on Friday after helping Team USA to its first World Baseball Classic championship, but it did take him a while to get into his locker thanks to teammate David Peralta.

While he was with Team USA, Goldschmidt did an interview with MLB Network's Intentional Talk and playfully took some shots at Peralta's social media presence. Peralta responded by using athletic tape to seal Goldschmidt's locker. He added a life-sized cloth photo of Goldschmidt over the top of the tape and then plastered it with pictures of himself.

"It took me a little time to get in there," Goldschmidt said. "That was a good one. I didn't have a chance to defend myself, but I guess I didn't give him a chance to defend himself in the interview either. It's all in good fun. I had to take that one. He got me there."

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Goldschmidt raved about his time in the World Baseball Classic, which culminated with an 8-0 win over Puerto Rico on Wednesday night in the championship game at Dodger Stadium.

"It was like a combination between an All-Star Game and the playoffs, so as a fan, I would want to be there," Goldschmidt said. "I was watching the other games. I usually never watch baseball when other teams are playing, but just seeing the other teams playing -- the intensity, the competitiveness -- they really did a great job with the event.

"It will hopefully encourage other guys to go play, because I had a lot of fun, and talking to my teammates and guys from other teams, they all had a blast. So hopefully it will continue to grow."

Video: Mike Hazen on Paul Goldschmidt's value to D-backs

Goldschmidt was initially part of Team USA's starting lineup, but after starting 1-for-13 at the plate, his playing time diminished, and he did not play in the final three games.

That's quite a role change for a player used to being the No. 3 hitter in a big league lineup and a regular at All-Star Games, but true to his nature, Goldschmidt took to the role without complaint.

"It's a little different than playing every day, but everyone has their role on a team, and that's what mine ended up being," Goldschmidt said. "I just tried to be ready if I had to pinch-hit. I didn't so just tried to do a good job on the bench and bring some energy that way. Just like here the guys who aren't playing every day try to bring energy and stay positive and help the guys out."

When he wasn't playing, Goldschmidt did what he could to stay sharp. He took extra rounds of batting practice and stood in during bullpen sessions to get a look at live pitching.

With more than a week left before the April 2 opener against the Giants, Goldschmidt is not concerned about his preparedness.

"I'll be ready," he said.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt

Classic fuels Schoop's enthusiasm in return

After semifinals appearance with Netherlands, 2B ready to win with Orioles
MLB.com

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop said Friday he's "200 percent" ready for the regular season after returning from a stint in the World Baseball Classic. Schoop was part of the Netherlands team that advanced to the semifinals.

While Schoop wasn't in Friday night's lineup on the road against the Twins, the infielder said he'd be ready to play over the weekend.

Full Game Coverage

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles second baseman Jonathan Schoop said Friday he's "200 percent" ready for the regular season after returning from a stint in the World Baseball Classic. Schoop was part of the Netherlands team that advanced to the semifinals.

While Schoop wasn't in Friday night's lineup on the road against the Twins, the infielder said he'd be ready to play over the weekend.

Full Game Coverage

"I'm ready. I'm ready already," he said. "Those [World Baseball Classic] games are so important to me. If you go through the motions, you won't win. You've got to go in there 100 percent and compete. That's all that matters, like compete, just play hard and try to win. It's all about winning. It's like the season: win."

Video: JPN@NED: Schoop ties game with RBI single in 9th

Schoop's club lost to Puerto Rico, which went on to lose to Team USA in the championship game. This time around for the 25-year-old Schoop -- who also played in the 2013 Classic -- the team was a little more mature and had some established big league players, including himself. He had a homer and four RBIs while playing in seven games.

Schoop, who left camp at the end of February, isn't sure how many remaining spring games he'll play in. He has been following the O's news, though, and keeping up with the team's Grapefruit League results.

Video: NED@ISR: Schoop lays out for diving stop, ends inning

"The [World Baseball Classic] is for your country, but it's, for like three weeks, the team is here. I've got to focus here, too, see what they're doing, and kind of keep updated," he said. "Me and Manny [Machado] and [Adam] Jones [who also played in the Classc], we were talking a little bit and [want] to come back ready. Come back ready to go. I'm ready."

Brittany Ghiroli has covered the Orioles for MLB.com since 2010. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, follow her on Facebook and Twitter @britt_ghiroli, and listen to her podcast.

 

Baltimore Orioles, Jonathan Schoop

Clippard: Classic one of 'coolest things' in career

Yankees righty appreciated representing USA in tournament
MLB.com

TAMPA, Fla. -- The realization hit Tyler Clippard long before he was part of the World Baseball Classic celebration at Dodger Stadium, confetti raining from the sky and the stars and stripes across his chest.

"It was one of the coolest things I've ever done in my career, for sure," Clippard said. "To be able to put on the USA jersey for two weeks straight and experience the camaraderie of some of the best players in America, and to take it home and win the gold, it was a fun ride."

TAMPA, Fla. -- The realization hit Tyler Clippard long before he was part of the World Baseball Classic celebration at Dodger Stadium, confetti raining from the sky and the stars and stripes across his chest.

"It was one of the coolest things I've ever done in my career, for sure," Clippard said. "To be able to put on the USA jersey for two weeks straight and experience the camaraderie of some of the best players in America, and to take it home and win the gold, it was a fun ride."

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

• Spring Training: Info | Schedule | Tickets | Gear

Clippard made three appearances for Team USA during the tournament, logging a 2.08 ERA and striking out six in 4 1/3 innings. Though he did not appear in Wednesday's decisive 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico, just being in uniform that night was memorable enough.

"Awesome. I got chills during the anthem," Clippard said. "To see the motivation that we had to win it and to dominate the game the way we did, in all facets, you couldn't have scripted it any better."

Clippard was on the mound for Adam Jones' incredible catch last Saturday at Petco Park, robbing a home run from Manny Machado in USA's 6-3 victory over the Dominican Republic. Once he realized what had happened, Clippard raised his arms and screamed, "Oh my God!"

Video: Must C Catch: Jones robs homer, Machado tips his cap

"It was very surreal," Clippard said. "It was like he was doing a magic trick from my perspective. It looked like he pulled the ball out of the crowd, and the next thing I knew, it was in his glove. It was a fun little thing to experience and be a part of that."

Clippard said that it had been an easy call to tell Joe Torre that he was interested in playing, and sharing a dugout with Jim Leyland proved to be a thrill. The level of competition in the tournament made a statement to the public about the World Baseball Classic, Clippard said.

"I think we proved that it's a fun event and it's very enjoyable to watch," Clippard said. "We got great turnouts for the crowds. I'm sure a lot of people watched the games. You could just see it with how we played the games and how into it we were, and all the countries were. When you have that genuine passion for winning those games, fans see that. People see that."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook

 

New York Yankees, Tyler Clippard

Katz, Goldberg relish Classic experience

MLB.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Prior to taking part in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, White Sox Minor Leaguer Alex Katz was pitching on the back fields of Camelback Ranch.

"There were five, 10 people watching," Katz said. "Then a couple of weeks later I'm throwing in front of 50,000 fans. I think I was more nervous throwing on the back field in front of five or 10 people than the 50,000, which is crazy. It was unbelievable."

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Prior to taking part in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, White Sox Minor Leaguer Alex Katz was pitching on the back fields of Camelback Ranch.

"There were five, 10 people watching," Katz said. "Then a couple of weeks later I'm throwing in front of 50,000 fans. I think I was more nervous throwing on the back field in front of five or 10 people than the 50,000, which is crazy. It was unbelievable."

Katz, a 22-year-old left-hander who was taken in the 27th round of the 2015 Draft, pitched for Team Israel in the Brooklyn Qualifier and then in both rounds of the World Baseball Classic in Korea and Japan. Brad Goldberg, who took part in his first big league camp this Spring Training, picked up two saves in the Brooklyn Qualifier, and then joined the team again in Japan, where Israel was eliminated.

Video: USA@PUR: Robertson retires Correa, USA wins 2017 WBC

Team USA captured the championship Wednesday night with an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico, as White Sox closer David Robertson worked the final frame and Nate Jones also contributed to the title. The two relievers are expected back in camp at some point Friday.

Israel became a surprise qualifier for the second round, although not a surprise to team members Katz and Goldberg. The experience for both of the hurlers not only stands as one they always will remember, but also one capable of enhancing their White Sox work as they move forward.

"The Minor Leagues don't really prepare you for the dog and pony show of the big leagues from the standpoint of the big stadium, the three decks, all the people," said Goldberg, who made two scoreless appearances in Japan. "I've always wondered what it's like to pitch in front of all those people. The fact I can do it and have success, it gives me clarity that I know my stuff can play. That was a big thing for me."

"It was a once in a lifetime opportunity, and we went into it with a lot of confidence," said Katz, who made four scoreless appearances. "A lot of people besides us did not believe in us, but we went out there and played our game, and did pretty well. It definitely had a major impact on Israel and baseball in Israel. We hope the game spreads drastically over the next couple of years."

Third to first

• White Sox manager Rick Renteria believes the team's final roster might not be set until the two exhibition games played in Milwaukee next weekend.

• Renteria mentioned the bullpen doesn't necessarily need to include a second left-hander behind Dan Jennings.

Jose Quintana's final Spring Training start Tuesday probably will take place on the Minor League side, per Renteria.

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

 

Chicago White Sox, Brad Goldberg

Historic 2017 Classic smashes event records

Fourth tournament sets marks for attendance, TV ratings and more
MLB.com

The 2017 World Baseball Classic has reached its conclusion, and the returns say the tournament was one for the history books.

The fourth installment of the Classic set new event records for attendance, television ratings, digital consumption and merchandise sales, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. The tournament concluded Wednesday night with the United States defeating Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the championship final in front of 3.1 million American television viewers across MLB Network, ESPN Deportes and a Spanish-language simulcast on ESPN2 -- a new record for any single Classic game.

The 2017 World Baseball Classic has reached its conclusion, and the returns say the tournament was one for the history books.

The fourth installment of the Classic set new event records for attendance, television ratings, digital consumption and merchandise sales, Major League Baseball announced Thursday. The tournament concluded Wednesday night with the United States defeating Puerto Rico, 8-0, in the championship final in front of 3.1 million American television viewers across MLB Network, ESPN Deportes and a Spanish-language simulcast on ESPN2 -- a new record for any single Classic game.

Shop for Team USA champions gear

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Overall, the tournament set several telecast records. MLB announced that domestic viewership in the U.S. increased by 32 percent over the most recent installment in 2013. Roughly 2.3 million Americans tuned in to MLB Network to watch Wednesday's final, making it the second-most-watched telecast in the network's history behind Game 2 of the '16 National League Division Series between the Cubs and Giants.

Yadi, Hosmer on All-Classic Team

An additional 761,000 watched either ESPN Deportes or the Spanish-language simulcast on ESPN2 for the final on Wednesday, making it the biggest U.S. audience for a Spanish-language telecast of a baseball game in history. And Americans certainly weren't the only ones tuning in; a staggering 70 percent of all televisions in Puerto Rico were set to the championship game. Furthermore, Japan's first three opening-round games ranked as the highest-rated television programs in the home country that week, and viewership in the Dominican Republic for the national team's games increased 10 percent over the 2013 tournament that the Dominicans won.

Television was far from the only record-setting area for WBC '17. A total of 1,086,720 fans attended Classic games at ballparks around the globe, a 23 percent increase from 2013 as the event passed one million in attendance for the first time. That included a crowd of 51,565 for the final at Dodger Stadium, the second-most-attended matchup in tournament history. Japanese baseball fans packed the stands the most, setting new pool attendance records with 209,072 for the second round and 206,534 attending first-round play, both at the Tokyo Dome.

On the digital side, MLB.TV subscribers consumed a record 70 million minutes of Classic coverage and web traffic to WorldBaseballClassic.com rose 41 percent as compared to the 2013 tournament. Classic merchandise sales also rose by 50 percent on MLBShop.com over the previous tournament.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.

 

Inciarte back in action with Braves after Classic

MLB.com

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With Ender Inciarte back from a World Baseball Classic experience that he hopes will help him avoid the first-half struggles he experienced last year, the Braves have a chance to spend Spring Training's final week getting a feel for their projected normal lineup.

"It's good to see what the lineup is going to look like and to be able to play games with the guys," Inciarte said. "It's good to be back because I like these guys and I like this team. I'm back now. It feels like I was gone for a long time."

Full Game Coverage

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- With Ender Inciarte back from a World Baseball Classic experience that he hopes will help him avoid the first-half struggles he experienced last year, the Braves have a chance to spend Spring Training's final week getting a feel for their projected normal lineup.

"It's good to see what the lineup is going to look like and to be able to play games with the guys," Inciarte said. "It's good to be back because I like these guys and I like this team. I'm back now. It feels like I was gone for a long time."

Full Game Coverage

Nearly three full weeks since he played his last Grapefruit League game before joining his Venezuelan teammates for the Classic, Inciarte rejoined the Braves' lineup for Thursday night's game against the Tigers. His return allowed the Braves to utilize each of their regulars in the same lineup for the first time since March 3.

Providing a preview of what the first eight spots of the Opening Day lineup will look like on April 3, the Braves ordered their lineup with Inciarte, Dansby Swanson, Freddie Freeman, Matt Kemp, Nick Markakis, Brandon Phillips, Adonis Garcia and Tyler Flowers.

Inciarte joined his Venezuelan teammates for a mini-camp on March 6 and then spent that following weekend competing in Pool D, which was contested in Jalisco, Mexico. Venezuela pulled out a win-or-go-home tiebreaker game against Italy on March 13 to advance to the second-round games, which were contested in San Diego late last week.

After Venezuela was eliminated, Inciarte brought his belongings back to Braves camp on Sunday. But because he had spent most of the past two weeks in either the Central or Pacific time zones, he spent a few days working out and readjusting his body clock before beginning to play in games again.

"I had a chance to play a lot of real games, where you put 100-percent effort out there," Inciarte said. "I'm not going to lie, I was looking forward to coming back and playing with [the Braves], because I'm looking forward to what this year brings."

Along with treasuring the opportunity to spend a couple of weeks playing with Miguel Cabrera, Jose Altuve, Carlos Gonzalez and some of Venezuela's other top stars, Inciarte believes he could benefit from the opportunity he had to be introduced to highly competitive atmospheres and situations within the month of March.

When Inciarte slashed .227/.294/.306 before last year's All-Star break and then slashed .341/.396/.440 after the break, his first-half struggles were influenced by the month-long absence he experienced after straining his hamstring during the season's third game.

While physical health will once again influence Inciarte's success, he believes the mental preparations he made over the past couple of weeks will prove beneficial at the start of the regular season.

"Physically, I feel great, and mentally, I'm more ready than normal because this year we had to be mentally ready to play in [the Classic]," Inciarte said. "I feel like that got me ready and I'm looking forward to starting to play again and win a lot of games."

Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.

 

Venezuela, Atlanta Braves, Ender Inciarte

Bogaerts ahead of schedule after circling globe

MLB.com

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts traveled the world these last few weeks, from Korea to Japan to Arizona to Los Angeles. But that long and winding road took him back to the Red Sox on Thursday, where he started at shortstop and went 1-for-4 in a 10-7 win over the Pirates.

It was the first Grapefruit League game for Bogaerts since his return from the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts traveled the world these last few weeks, from Korea to Japan to Arizona to Los Angeles. But that long and winding road took him back to the Red Sox on Thursday, where he started at shortstop and went 1-for-4 in a 10-7 win over the Pirates.

It was the first Grapefruit League game for Bogaerts since his return from the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.

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Bogaerts played third base for a Netherlands squad that advanced all the way to the semifinals before a crushing ouster in 11 innings against Puerto Rico on Monday.

"It's good to be back, but I had a good time with my friends that I grew up with," said Bogaerts. "The tournament was a blast. I went over to the other side of the world and saw some nice things."

And now Bogaerts has 10 days to get re-acclimated to his main position of shortstop.

In many ways, the high-stakes environment Bogaerts played in served him well in terms of being ready for Opening Day.

"I feel pretty good," said Bogaerts. "I think I'm a bit more ahead than where I normally am, probably because those games we had to go all out. We had to be on point with them. I felt really good out there. Just going back to shortstop now is much better, though."

Aside from a two-month interlude in 2014 when he was moved to third base, this marks the fourth season Bogaerts will hold down shortstop for the Red Sox.

"He really can impact the game in a bunch of different ways," said right-hander Rick Porcello. "Bogey is playing arguably one of the most important positions on the field, and he's been doing it for a couple of years now. Not only taking the defensive responsibilities that he has, but offensively, learning the pitchers and how tough he gets pitched, he's taken it all in stride and is extremely mature about it."

As far as playing for his country, it was an experience Bogaerts was able to savor far more than in 2013, when he was 20 years old and still months away from making his Major League debut.

"This time around was much better because I was so nervous. I was so young last time," Bogaerts said. "This time I feel as more of a grown guy now, playing with all the guys I grew up with that are playing in the big leagues. Guys that I played with in the first tournament -- Andruw Jones was a player, now he's a bench coach. Being around guys like that meant a lot."

Ian Browne has covered the Red Sox for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne and Facebook.

 

Boston Red Sox

D-backs expect to have Goldy back in camp Friday

First baseman was part of Team USA's championship-winning squad in 2017 WBC
MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is expected to report back to camp Friday.

Team USA won its first World Baseball Classic championship by beating Puerto Rico, 8-0, on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After playing for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt is expected to report back to camp Friday.

Team USA won its first World Baseball Classic championship by beating Puerto Rico, 8-0, on Wednesday night at Dodger Stadium.

"I talked to Goldy [Wednesday] before the game," D-backs manager Torey Lovullo said. "Along with wishing him luck, I wanted to get his game plan. He wants to get home, get his family situated and just get grounded a little bit. He'll be here [Friday] ready to go. My anticipation is he'll play. That's what we spoke about -- but just want to make sure I'll touch base with him in the morning just to confirm all that. We're anxious to get him back, we're excited about it."

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Goldschmidt left D-backs camp after the March 5 game and at the time was 6-for-15 with a home run and six RBIs. He struggled at the plate for Team USA, going 1-for-13, and his playing time shrunk as the tournament went on.

Goldschmidt last appeared in a game last Friday.

Lovullo said he plans on sitting down with Goldschmidt to map out how many at-bats the slugger would like to have before the April 2 opener.

"I know he'll be ready for the season," Lovullo said. "He probably would have had more at-bats had he been here, we all know that. But he was doing something pretty special for his country, and we respect that.

"I know that he was working hard behind the scenes to make sure that he stayed ready, so it's a non-issue for me. I know he wishes he would've played, but he supported his team and they won the championship, and that's what it's all about."

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks, Paul Goldschmidt

Post-Classic Yelich emerges a leader

Team USA's win gives outfielder heightened profile, exposure
MLB.com

JUPITER, Fla. -- Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton will return to Spring Training this weekend with World Baseball Classic championship medals and baseball experiences of a lifetime.

After being part of Team USA's title team, the two Miami outfielders now know what it takes to win on a big baseball stage.

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JUPITER, Fla. -- Christian Yelich and Giancarlo Stanton will return to Spring Training this weekend with World Baseball Classic championship medals and baseball experiences of a lifetime.

After being part of Team USA's title team, the two Miami outfielders now know what it takes to win on a big baseball stage.

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Yelich, who hit third in a star-studded lineup, said after the United States defeated Puerto Rico on Wednesday: "It's the most fun I've ever had on a baseball field."

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As Yelich and Stanton were playing for Team USA, their Miami teammates followed their every at-bats. Right-hander Tom Koehler said the players had a group text message, and they would repeatedly correspond throughout the tournament.

"Every time [Yelich] got a hit, we were like, 'Look at this guy,'" Koehler said. "Getting that taste of winning, and being on that stage he was on, he's going to expect that from us now. He's going to want to do that again. Him and [Stanton], I think that's going to pay huge dividends for the us going forward."

The Marlins anticipate easing Yelich and Stanton back into Grapefruit League action. Neither is scheduled to play on Friday when the Marlins face the Nationals at 7:05 p.m. ET at Roger Dean Stadium.

Yelich's strong showing in the Classic not only raised his profile, but also his stature in the Marlins' clubhouse.

"I think it's the greatest thing that could have happened for us, selfishly," Koehler said. "Now, Yelly got a taste of what it feels like to be on a huge stage, and basically be a leader on a team full of superstars. You saw that guy out there playing with so much emotion.

"You can't play like that for a full season, he'd be exhausted. But he took another step as far as guys are going to be looking at him in here. He's no longer the young, quiet guy in the corner. He took whole different step.

"The guy can flat out play. Whether you want to be a leader or not, when you're one of the team's best players, people expect you to lead."

Joe Frisaro has covered the Marlins for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @JoeFrisaro and listen to his podcast.

 

Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton, Christian Yelich