ST. PETERSBURG — With no aim fences at Taiwan’s Taichung Stadium, Rays catcher Christian Bettencourt missed the opener of the Planet Baseball Classic in Panama when warming up the beginning pitcher in the batting cage beneath the bleachers.

But he could nonetheless hear the very first couple of notes of “Himno Istmeno,” the Panamanian national anthem. Then he had to pause for a moment.

“I cried a tiny bit,” Bethancourt stated. “I got genuinely emotional. And it felt good.”

Bethancourt is not the only Ray who came back from the WBC thrilled with the encounter.

The smile on Vander Frank’s face Saturday morning when he talked about his time with the Dominican Republic group was just as telling.

“It was unquestionably a dream come accurate for any Dominican player to be capable to represent the nation,” he stated by way of group interpreter Manny Navarro.

“I cannot clarify it,” added Harold Ramirez, who played for Colombia.

Dominican Republic’s Vander Franco celebrates soon after acquiring a base hit through the second inning of the Planet Baseball Classic against Puerto Rico on March 15.


These feelings and memories, the autographed balls and jerseys the players brought property ought to serve as a rebuttal to these criticizing the WBC notion soon after the season-ending proper knee injury suffered by Mets closer Edwin Diaz when celebrating a victory in Puerto Rico.

“It is terrible that he got hurt,” Betancourt stated. “But I personally would not blame the VBC for that.” It could have occurred anyplace.”

Though the WBC may possibly not be well-liked with fans in the United States — specially when it is getting played at the very same time as the NCAA basketball tournament — Rice players participating stated it is significant to comprehend how substantially it implies elsewhere.

“I sort of agree with that. It is not a issue for any one, but specially exactly where we come from, from our nations in Latin America, baseball is the primary sport,” stated Francisco Mejia, who created the Dominican group, by way of the team’s communications manager Elvis Martinez.

“In the United States, you almost certainly have extra sports or other points to cheer for.” It is an honor to put on your country’s jersey and represent your nation and your loved ones and buddies. And that is the way we see it.”

Or, as Bettencourt place it: “We represent our nation and we also represent our households, our roots.” For soccer, they have the FIFA Planet Cup we have VBC.”

The danger of injury to players is clearly the largest concern for teams, who spot usage limits, specially for pitchers. But these very same injuries can occur through spring coaching and games.

“I never feel it is fair to necessarily pin it on the WBC,” Rays manager Kevin Money stated. players. There is practically nothing incorrect with incorporating that sort of excitement into our game.”

Outfielder Randy Arozarena, who played a important function as Mexico sophisticated to the semifinals, epitomized that.

And he emphasized the significance of the games when he stated his game-saving catch in the quarterfinals was extra than any property run he’s hit, like the 2020 Planet Series.

Mexico manager Benji Gil went additional, saying it “should be the most significant game in the history of Mexican sports.”

Other Rays participating stated it is difficult to clarify how substantially it all meant, from getting teammates with some of their country’s elite players to proudly wearing the colors.

Mejia stated he cannot consider any postseason atmosphere to prime what they knowledgeable in Wednesday’s win-or-go-property loss to Puerto Rico.

“I never feel I will ever really feel nervous once again,” he stated. “The stage is not significant. I feel my ears are nonetheless ringing from all the noise in the crowd. … As if it have been you. play a concert or a thing.”

The Rays nonetheless cannot announce Shane McClanahan as their very first-time starter, nor can other teams name theirs, due to the fact of a league-wide mandate to withhold the news for an MLB Network particular on Thursday. … With Neil Solondz promoted to join Andy Fried in the radio booth following the March five death of Dave Wills, the group will subsequent appear to fill the function of pre/postgame host. … Greatest wishes to former Rays communications managers Carly Fisher, who moved to player improvement in a travel/logistics function, and Craig Vanderkam, who joined Significant League Baseball’s information operations division. … Prospect Junior Caminero, the 19-year-old infielder referred to as up for Thursday’s game at Tropicana Field, place on a efficiency in batting practice that had huge players standing about to watch. … Regardless of all efforts to get Money to spend, former Ray Ji-Man Choi picked up the bill for Friday night’s dinner with an assistant who punched coach Brady North. … In a Crestline survey of 1,000 baseball fans nationwide, Rays fans have been ranked eighth least annoying and 13th most effective behaved. … A restricted quantity of copies of the Rais media guide, featuring a cool 25th anniversary cover, will be out there in mid-April at the group retailer. … Sports Illustrated’s Stephanie Apstein reported on a thing the Rays (and most other teams) do for their players that the mighty Yankees never: They give totally free World-wide-web access on group flights. … The new no-charge, grab-and-go concession region on the downtown porch will be referred to as The Shortstop. … In addition to upgrades to Tropicana Field’s primary and side video boards, there is also a new graphics package. … provides the Rays a 63 % opportunity to make the playoffs, third-most effective in the American League East, fourth in the league, 10th in the majors. … The Yankees strategy to renovate their Tampa fountain. Owner Hal Steinbrenner stated they have been concerned they have been “falling behind a lot of other teams that have newer facilities,” citing the Blue Jays’ state-of-the-art facility in Dunedin and adding, “I am not 1 that ever desires to be secondary.”

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