Stubbs praises Classic, shifts focus to Phils

March 16th, 2023

CLEARWATER, Fla. -- had a blast, first and foremost.

He hit a game-winning ground-rule double to left field in the eighth inning Sunday to help Israel beat Nicaragua, 3-1, in the opening round of the World Baseball Classic. Stubbs, who has never been afraid to express himself, savored the moment on second base, gesticulating to his teammates in the Israeli dugout.

“I might have to keep that one going for the regular season,” Stubbs said.

Afterward, Stubbs heard from Jewish people who watched in Israel and in the United States. He saw highlights from a watch party in Israel.

“It kind of hits a little bit different,” Stubbs said Thursday morning at BayCare Ballpark. “There’s not really a big baseball community in Israel, but just winning that one game and getting to impact it the way that I did, there was a huge outreach of people in Israel, and Jewish people around the U.S. In Israel, they have such a big sense of pride when they see Team Israel winning on such a big stage.

"They’re going to build a new baseball field there. They started with none. Now, they have three over the last decade of Team Israel playing. They’re trying to create a baseball community there in Israel, so things like winning one baseball game in the WBC … creates a huge impact there. Over time, we’ll get to see people from Israel playing in it, people like  and other guys.”

Stubbs has never been to Israel. He would love to go someday.

“I could go by Birthright [Israel], but I think it ends at 26,” Stubbs said. “But I’ve got a feeling after the one hit, they might send me over there.”

Stubbs played only one game in the Classic because he suffered a mild sprain of his right knee on a swing against Nicaragua. He said he never felt any discomfort during the game, but he felt sore afterward. So he returned to Clearwater, Fla., to have Phillies doctors take a look.

“Obviously, the WBC is important and a lot of fun, but priorities lie here in Philly,” Stubbs said.

An MRI on Wednesday revealed the sprain. Stubbs said he will take a few days to rest before he gets behind the plate again.

“Nothing serious,” he said. “It’ll be a day-to-day thing with pain tolerance. I told [the Phillies] coming back, even before I got any results, that if this was the regular season, I’d be out there playing -- no question about it. But like I said, with the circumstances being the WBC and what we’ve got going on here, I wasn’t willing to sacrifice any sort of prolonged time away from playing during the regular season. It feels like something that will not impact Opening Day. That, we can cross off the list.”

Besides, the World Baseball Classic will be back in three years. Stubbs hopes to represent Israel again.

“The experience is something that I would recommend for everybody, if they get a chance to go play for a team,” Stubbs said. “It’s really, really fun. It feels like Little League baseball again, where you’re playing for a country and pride and whatnot. It really does feel like a Little League game, where people write off the business parts of baseball, which exist, whether you like it or not.

"It really is like the Olympics. It’s our Olympics for baseball. It felt like everybody was playing for just a little bit more than just themselves or the guys next to them. They felt like they were playing for a whole country.”