All of the rosters for the World Baseball Classic have been released. They are subject to change, but they can all be read here by clicking on each country’s flag. The highlights, per MLB’s press release:
Venezuela’s roster currently features 11 All-Stars, including Triple Crown-winning 2012 A.L. MVP Miguel Cabrera, 2012 World Series Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet Pablo Sandoval, 2010 A.L. Cy Young winner Felix Hernandez and 2012 N.L. All-Star outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. The Dominican Republic’s roster is highlighted by 10 All-Stars, including infielders Adrian Beltre, Robinson Cano, Hanley Ramirez, Jose Reyes and 2002 A.L. MVP Miguel Tejada. Also participating is 2006 A.L. MVP Justin Morneau of Canada.
Seven-time All-Star Carlos Beltran and two-time World Series Champion Yadier Molina, both of Team Puerto Rico, will participate in their third World Baseball Classic. Another third-time participant is Adrian Gonzalez of Team Mexico, which will have All-Star right-hander Yovani Gallardo. Free agent right-hander Chien-Ming Wang will represent Chinese Taipei for the first time in the World Baseball Classic, while left-hander Bruce Chen will become the first Major Leaguer to represent China in the event.
So I guess Bruce Chen got his grandparents’ Chinese birth certificate issue figured out.
The WBC begins March 2 and goes through March 19. The pools:
- Pool A: Brazil, China, Cuba and Japan, playing at the Fukuoka Yahoo! Japan Dome
- Pool B: Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea and the Netherlands, playing at Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan
- Pool C: Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain and Venezuela, playing at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico
- Pool D: Canada, Italy, Mexico and the United States, playing at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in ArizonaSalt River Fields at Talking Stick in Arizona.
The First Round will feature a round-robin format with the top two teams at each venue advancing to one of two Second Round pools. The Second Round, which will be a modified double-elimination format, will be played at the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan and Marlins Park in Miami, Florida. The Championship Round at AT&T Park in San Francisco from Sunday, March 17th–Tuesday, March 19th.
Gentlemen, start your international baseball.
There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.
It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.
Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.
Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.
It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.
On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.
At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.
If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.
Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.
Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.