Thursday was a mix of exhibition games and real games for the World Baseball Classic. Team USA played an exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox, while the teams from the Dominican Republic, Italy and Canada each played their first WBC tournament game. Below you will find news on all of the Pittsburgh Pirates taking part in the WBC.

The big news of the day was Starling Marte not being in the starting lineup for the Dominican Republic because of right ankle swelling. Most people worry most about injuries when talking about the WBC, despite the fact that injuries happen all spring. Marte’s injury is very minor and he expects to play Saturday night. If the injury happened during the regular season, it’s probably something he would have played through, or just took one game off for precaution.

As for the actual action on the field, Team USA lost for the second time in exhibition games. They dropped a 3-2 decision to the Minnesota Twins on Wednesday night, then lost 7-5 to the Red Sox on Thursday afternoon. Andrew McCutchen didn’t play, while Josh Harrison provided almost all of the offense off the bench. After coming in during the bottom of the sixth, Harrison hit a two-run single in the eight inning, then a two-run homer in the ninth. He played one inning at third base and two in left field.

Team Dominican beat Canada by a 9-2 score. In four at-bats, Gregory Polanco had two singles, a run scored and an RBI. He started the game in center field and moved to left field for the last two innings. Eric Wood went 1-for-4 with an opposite field line drive single in his second at-bat. He had two homers and a double on Wednesday night.

Team Italy beat Mexico 10-9 in their opening game and Francisco Cervelli went 1-for-3 with a double and a walk. He caught all nine innings, though he did leave in the bottom of the ninth for a pinch-runner. Italy was down 9-5 going into the bottom of the ninth and scored five runs without making a single out. Cervelli started it with his double and former Pirate Oliver Perez allowed the walk-off two-run single.

**Jared Lakind left Bradenton on Thursday afternoon to join Team Israel in Tokyo. Sean McCool wrote about Lakind earlier today.

**Friday’s schedule has Team USA opening up their tournament at 6:00 PM against Colombia in Miami. That’s the only contest that includes players from the Pirates on Friday. All seven Pirates could see action on Saturday, including USA taking on the Dominican Republic at 6:30 PM on MLB Network.

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16 COMMENTS

  1. Wood had good at bats, great to see. 9 innings for Cervelli, is a slight concern, he wouldn’t catch that many innings if he was with the team. With Steward on his last leg and not expected to log that many innings I sure hope that Cervelli’s work load during the WBS does not become an issue.

    • He caught four innings from Monday-Wednesday, so he probably hasn’t seen an increase in playing time yet compared to his normal work. Italy is unlikely to go to the finals and might not make it past this round with games left against Venezuela and Puerto Rico, so it’s possible he might catch just two more games, with today being an off-day.

    • I wouldn’t worry about Cervelli’s workload with Team Italy. I wouldn’t expect them to make a long run in the WBC, although beating Mexico was a nice win.

  2. John, your writing is fantastic, but this statement, “Most people worry most about injuries when talking about the WBC, despite the fact that injuries happen all spring” is ridiculous. First, it says nothing, its obvious. Second, it implies that the situations are the same, and come with the same degree of risk of injury. Do you really believe that players that are in the early stages of getting ready for a season are physically ready to go 100% 2 weeks into spring training? Especially pitchers that normally are still building up arm strength at this stage, instead firing as hard as they can in support of their heritage. Surely you realize that the chances for injury are higher when players are playing competitively this early in the season versus just getting back in shape for the season. I always felt that the WBC should be after the world series, not during spring training- at least muscle pulls and strains have time to heal without it impacting their teams….

    • After the World Series sounds like a good idea, just don’t used pitchers that pitch in the post season, but I guess they tournament will be limited to domes, since they will be playing in November! Not to mention what it will do to the winter leagues.

      • not into “shape” into playing shape. No, they aren’t. No pitcher is ready on March 3rd to throw full speed with full arm strength to go 6 innings in a ML game. No MLP player will tell you his feet isn’t killing him just the first few weeks of being in cleat for 5 hours a day.

        • Perhaps this little tournament was planned far in advance and many of the players who planned to participate chose to begin and ramp up their preparations for the season earlier than normal so they could be ready by March 3rd. It is possible to adapt to changing circumstances.

          • You can’t adapt and prepare to game situations and game speed without playing games, and exhibition games that are being watched by your coaching and your trainers and where you aren’t going full out are the best and safest way to prepare. Any suggestion otherwise leads me to believe these commenters never played competitive ball on any sort of high level

            • I guess I forgot baseball rule 101. If you’ve played competitive baseball you are automatically smarter than those that haven’t. My bad. Your comments remind me of this rule often.

              • its not smarter at all, its that experience has value. An idiot that has played baseball in college would tell you the same thing as someone that is genious level.

                • If players so obviously can’t adapt their schedules to be ready to play games a few weeks earlier than normal how do you explain that it’s actually happening and there hasn’t been a slew of injuries day after day?

                  Players get hurt whether it’s ST games, WBC games, or any other random thing. The most significant injuries I’ve read about all spring have struck players who aren’t playing in the WBC. Weird how that happened since they obviously weren’t going full out and were being watched by their coaches and trainers. Shit happens.

  3. I got to see wood play in Bradenton last week. He is a put together player physically. He looked good out there. I expect to see continued breaking out by him. Hoping he can be other freese type of player.

  4. The more Wood keeps hitting, the more interested in him I’m becoming. Hopefully he can carry it over to the regular season and at some point help the big club.

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