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.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.