Pittsburgh Pirates: First Action of World Baseball Classic

Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports /

News: The World Baseball Classic has been going on for about a week now.  However, until last night, no Pittsburgh Pirates had played yet.

Earlier in the week the Eastern side of the World (Pool A & B) started playing their round-robin tournaments.  However, with Jung-Ho Kang being removed from the South Korean team roster, the Pittsburgh Pirates did not have any players participating in those games.  Last night Pool C and D kicked off their round-robin tournaments.  The Pittsburgh Pirates did have a few players in action.

Dominican Republic vs Team Canada

In game one, it was the Dominican Republic playing Canada’s team.  The Dominican Republic won in easy fashion nine to two.  Starting for Canada was former Chicago Cub’s pitcher Ryan Dempster.  Dempster last pitched in the majors in 2013, and you could tell.  He lasted only two innings and gave up four runs.  Pittsburgh Pirates left fielder Gregory Polanco got the start in center field for the Dominican Republic.  He also was the one to start the scoring off for the heavy favorited Dominican team.  Polanco hit in Nelson Cruz on a single to center field.  Polanco was in a two-strike count and took a high fastball to right center field.  It was a nice piece of hitting, as he kept his hands back and did not over swing on a high 80s fastball up in the zone.

Polanco finished the game with two hits out of four at-bats.  He also scored a run during the second inning. Polanco was eventually shifted to left field when manager Tony Pena (former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher) replaced Nelson Cruz with Mel Rojas Jr. Rojas went to center field as Polanco shifted to left. Mel Rojas Jr. is also a former Pittsburgh Pirates third round pick (2010).

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Also in the game was Pittsburgh Pirates infield prospect Eric Wood.  Wood got the start at third base and batted fifth in Team Canada’s lineup.  Wood, a rising prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, went one for four in the game.  The 24-year-old did not seem over matched at the plate, as he made contact in every at-bat. This was by far the best pitching Wood has faced in his young career so far, and his hit came off of Carlos Martinez.  Wood is getting a lot of experience playing in this tournament, and will likely benefit more from the WBC than he would at Major League spring training camp.

Team Italy vs Team Mexico

In game two, Team Italy went up against Team Mexico. The Pittsburgh Pirates only had one player in this game, Francisco Cervelli.  Cervelli got the start behind the plate for the Italians. Cervelli had a mixed game, going one for three at the plate along with a walk.  However, he also was behind the plate calling the game, and Team Italy’s pitching staff got knocked for nine runs.  However, Italy won the game 10-9.

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Tonight at 6:00 PM EST, Team USA takes on Team Columbia.  The Pittsburgh Pirates have two players on Team America.  Andrew McCutchen will be in the starting lineup, while Josh Harrison will likely come off the bench.