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Latino players cherish chance to appear in World Baseball Classic

Latino players cherish chance to appear in World Baseball Classic

Posted by PanamericanWorld on March 12, 2017

Two questions remain constant during the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the fourth installment of the tournament: Who will win? And how much will players care?

Some of the United States’ best players, including the Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw and the Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout, chose not to participate. New York Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard, one of the most exciting young players in baseball, was blunt in explaining why he was not taking part.

“Ain’t nobody make it to the Hall of Fame and win the World Series playing in the WBC,” Syndergaard said early this month.

But that is hardly the sentiment of many Latino players. There are 21 players who have appeared in the previous three tournaments and are on their country’s roster for the 2017 Classic, according to Elias Sports Bureau. Of those 21, nearly half are Latinos, and many are among the biggest names to participate in the event.

No player on the U.S. team has taken part in all four tournaments, while Puerto Rico, for example, will have four four-time participants by the time this Classic concludes.

“It’s a great experience,” said the Houston Astros’ Carlos Beltran, one of those four. “It’s great to represent your country in a tournament like this.”

Jose Reyes, a Mets infielder, is the only player from the Dominican Republic, the defending WBC champion, to appear in all four tournaments. He said he felt the same way as Beltran.

Dominican Republic infielder Jose Reyes throws to first against the United States on March 11. Mike Ehrmann / Getty Images

“Any chance that comes your way to represent your country, you have to do it because you’re highlighting your country,” Reyes said in Spanish last week. “That’s why I’ve never said no. I feel like I’m not only doing this for my country, but for all the Dominicans all over the world.”

The largest concentration of these four-time participants will play in Guadalajara this weekend at the Estadio de Béisbol Charros de Jalisco, the only one of the four sites in the first round of the WBC that is in Latin America.

Puerto Rico, in addition to Reyes, has relievers J.C. Romero and Orlando Roman and catcher Yadier Molina making their fourth appearance. On Friday night, Puerto Rico defeated Venezuela, 11-0, which had first baseman Miguel Cabrera and reliever Francisco Rodriguez playing in their fourth tournament.

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