SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Sunday was catcher Jonathan Lucroy's last day in a Rangers jersey for a while, but he'll still be wearing red, white and blue as he begins his second trip to the World Baseball Classic. The Florida native is bound for his home state to join the American
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Sunday was catcher Jonathan Lucroy's last day in a Rangers jersey for a while, but he'll still be wearing red, white and blue as he begins his second trip to the World Baseball Classic. The Florida native is bound for his home state to join the American team, which is preparing for the Classic opener against Colombia Friday in Miami.
"It's a pretty unbelievable feeling taking the field with USA across your chest. It's something that I'll never really forget. It gives you goosebumps doing it," said Lucroy.
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Lucroy has had an affinity for American military veterans for years, participating in Stars and Stripes Honor Flights, visiting VA hospitals, raising money for veterans' causes and inviting them to Brewers games during his time in Milwaukee. Playing for the American squad, Lucroy said, is a momentous experience that fills him with pride.
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"Any time you get to go out and represent your country, you're playing for a cause greater than yourself," Lucroy said. "That goes for all the players across the WBC, not just myself or Team USA, it goes for everyone. You're representing your entire country and what they stand for. To me, that's what our soldiers do across the ocean, they're representing us, protecting our interests, protecting our safety and protecting us in other countries. I take it very seriously and it's a huge honor."
Lucroy went 2-for-5 (.400) with two runs and an RBI in three Classic games in 2013 behind starting catcher Joe Mauer. This year, he'll join the Giants' Buster Posey and the Marlins' A.J. Ellis as the backstops for Team USA. Rangers teammate Sam Dyson, the Texas closer since early last season, will also play with Lucroy on the American club.
"We are a really good team, there's All-Stars up and down the lineup," Lucroy said. "We've got some studs on the mound. As long as we play good defense, we hit -- which I know we're going to hit -- and we pitch and we do our thing, I think we're going to be in pretty good shape to advance."
In opening-round pool play, the Americans will play the Dominican Republic squad -- featuring Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre -- on Saturday, and the U.S. will take on Canada on March 12.
Lucroy, Dyson and Beltre will be the only Rangers in first-round play in Miami, but the Rangers are well represented on Classic rosters in pool play in South Korea and Mexico. Catcher Robinson Chirinos, second baseman Rougned Odor and pitcher Martin Perez will play for Venezuela in pool play in Jalisco; reliever Alex Claudio will play for Puerto Rico, also in Jalisco; and infielder Jurickson Profar will play for the Netherlands in Seoul.
Should their teams advance, some of those Rangers could meet in the second round in San Diego beginning March 14, and the championship round in Los Angeles beginning March 20. Lucroy hopes to return just before camp ends with a gold medal.
"For me, the WBC's going to be a break from the monotony of Spring Training," Lucroy said. "Last time I was only gone two weeks because we got eliminated. This time even if we go all the way, I think I'll be back on the 24th and I'll still have five to six days to get back in the swing of things with the Rangers. … It's going to definitely be a treat and a privilege to be able to go and take part in that."
The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday through March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be 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.
Dave Sessions is a contributor to MLB.com.