Santo Domingo, DR: Due to the many stars of the best baseball in the world on the Dominican Republic roster, many living the best moment of their careers, this team was projected to win everything in the World Baseball Classic.
The reality was different and very distant. The Dominican team only won against Israel and Nicaragua, inferior rivals. He lost to Venezuela and Puerto Rico and was eliminated in the first round for the second time in the event’s history.
This performance, considered one of the biggest failures in the history of Dominican sports, contains several elements that ruined the result.
The choice of Nelson Cruz, an active Major League Baseball player, as general manager, without any experience structuring rosters, hinted at some improvisation on the part of the Dominican Baseball Federation.
Although the player stated that the figures of Juan Mercado and Amaurys Nina, from the operations staff, would be fundamental in structuring the group, the manager’s job is supposed to be full-time, without limitations due to his work on the field.
The third base coach for the Tampa Bay Rays was the designated manager for the fifth edition of the World Baseball Classic.
Without having the credentials of a winning manager in the Dominican Baseball League, nor the same career in the Major Leagues as Felipe Alou, Tony Peña, and Manny Acta, who led the Dominican team in the first four editions, he received the vote of confidence to be the ship’s helmsman.
His book and decision-making changed in the matches against Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
In the first game, he pinch-hit Robinson Canó, replacing Gary Sánchez, in the fifth inning, with no RBI scenario. Cano was tagged out.
While in the last game against Puerto Rico, with two runners on base and two outs, in the seventh inning with a 5-2 deficit, he let catcher Francisco Mejía hit, claiming that he could not lose one of his catchers in an elimination match.
A roster that included three players at shortstop, two-second basemen, a first baseman, a center fielder, two catchers, and two players over 40 years of age also came under fire.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., included in the team’s 30-player roster, could not participate due to an injury to his right knee days before starting the training camp in Fort Myers.
He was replaced by Jeimer Candelario, who did well, hitting .500 in the tournament.
The Dominican team had Jeremy Peña, Most Valuable of the World Series and the American League Championship Series, at short stops; Willy Adames and Wander Franco at quick stops.
Franco also played second base, sharing a spot with Ketel Marte.
Receivers Mejía and Sánchez were the least productive duo on the team. Connecting an undisputed single in 4 games.
Cueto and Sandy failed.
Openers Sandy Alcántara and Johnny Cueto carried the team’s losses.
Alcántara, a National League Cy Young, pitched in 3 2/3 innings against Venezuela, allowing three earned runs, including a home run and walking 3.
While the veteran Cueto only worked in two episodes, they made three runs with four hits, one of them a home run.
The null offensive against VEN and PR
In total, against Venezuela and Puerto Rico, the Dominican team batted .182 (12 hits in 66 at-bats), with 26 strikeouts and leaving a total of 20 runners on base.
Between Rafael Devers and Manny Machado, they went 0-17 in the two losses against Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
Jeremy Peña batted 3-0.
Teoscar Hernández went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts.
Catchers Francisco Mejía and Gary Sánchez went 0-for-5 in these two games.
Robinson Canó failed in a single shift, as did Jean Segura.
Jeimer Candelario finished 3-6, for an average of .500 points.
Juan Soto was the best batter in the Dominican Republic, with
Eloy Jiménez went 1-4 against Puerto Rico. He did not play against Venezuela.
Julio Rodríguez went 8-2. Wander Franco from 6-2. Ketel Marte 4-1.