Dominican Republic goes undefeated in WBC, captures title

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The 2013 World Baseball Classic is a wrap, and we have a new champion in Team Dominican Republic.

The Dominicans rolled through the event undefeated, notching wins against Venezuela, Spain, Italy, the United States and Team Netherlands on the way to snagging the WBC crown. They topped Team Puerto Rico a total of three times — once in pool play, once in the second round and again on Tuesday night in their first-ever World Baseball Classic championship game at a rain-soaked AT&T Park in San Francisco.

Dominican starter Samuel Deduno delivered five scoreless innings in the 3-0 win, allowing only two Puerto Rican hits while fanning five. Deduno yielded one earned run in 13 World Baseball Classic innings. He was followed Tuesday by Dominican relievers Octavio Dotel, Pedro Strop, Santiago Casilla and Fernando Rodney, who all contributed scoreless frames.

Edwin Encarnacion played the biggest role on offense in the championship game, smacking a tone-setting two-run double in the bottom of the first inning after Team Puerto Rico decided to intentionally walk the batter in front of him, Robinson Cano. Cano was 0-for-3 on the night but had a massively productive tournament.

Team Japan was crowned WBC champion in 2006 and 2009. They lost in the semifinals this year.

2017 Preview: The American League East

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League East

Boston may have the most talent and, in Mookie Betts, the best player. The Yankees have the best farm system. Baltimore has all the dingers and the best closer. Toronto may have the best collection of heels, at least in the view of fans of the other AL East teams.  The Rays have the best . . . hmm. I’ll get back to you on that.

Anyway, here are our previews for the American League East:

Boston Red Sox
Toronto Blue Jays
Baltimore Orioles
New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays

Steven Matz likely to start season on DL; Zack Wheeler to adhere to innings limit

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Mets manager Terry Collins said on Wednesday, “It’s unlikely that [Steven Matz] will start the season with us.” The final spot in the Mets’ starting rotation will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo, Newsday’s Marc Carig reports.

On Wheeler’s innings limit, assistant GM John Ricco said, “There’s going to be some number but we don’t exactly know what that is.” Wheeler missed the last two seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Neither Wheeler nor Lugo have had terrific springs as each carries a 5.11 and 5.56 Grapefruit League ERA, respectively. However, Carig notes that Wheeler has impressed simply by appearing healthy and brandishing a fastball that once again sits in the mid- to high-90’s. Lugo, meanwhile, proved crucial to the Mets last year, posting a 2.67 ERA across eight starts and nine relief appearances.