As the Miami Marlins approached Spring Training, they knew they would be represented at the fifth World Baseball Classic. This year, the tournament is hosted at the loanDepot Park in Miami, Florida, the Marlins’ home base. They lost seven players, five from the 40-man roster and two prospects. These players include Sandy Alcantara, Luis Arraez, Johnny Cueto, Enmanuel De Jesus, Jesús Luzardo, Anthony Maldonado, and Jean Segura.
Alcantara, Cueto, and Segura are playing for the Dominican Republic; Arraez, De Jesus, and Luzardo are playing for Venezuela; and Maldonado is playing for Puerto Rico. Two players, Cueto and Segura, have previously participated in the World Baseball Classic.
Right-handed pitcher Johnny Cueto pitched in the 2009 tournament, having 4 2/3 scoreless innings in the one elimination game he played against Panama. Infielder Jean Segura played in two games in the 2017 tournament, making it to the quarterfinals.
Although this is an exciting time for them, it is not guaranteed they get time on the field. This poses an issue for the Marlins coaching staff, particularly for new manager Skip Schumaker, who is fine-tuning the team before his first season opener against the New York Mets.
Fortunately, all five found themselves on the field at least once throughout their duration in the World Baseball Classic. However, one of the favorites of the World Baseball Classic, the Dominican Republic, had a shorter lifespan than expected.
Sandy Alcantara took the field on March 11 against Venezuela, going up against his two teammates: Arraez and Luzardo. However, the game did not go exactly as planned.
The right-handed pitcher started the game for his team in one of the opening-round games in the tournament and pitched for four innings. But he had two big mistakes.
The first came with Anthony Santander’s homer for Venezuela in the bottom of the second inning. By pitching a sinker, Santander hit the ball 393 feet to tie the game. But things faltered even more when Alcantara stepped on the mound for the fourth inning.
The bases were loaded, there were two outs on the board, and Alcantara had the pressure to deliver as David Peralta approached the batter’s box. Unfortunately, Peralta found the slider pitch and hit a two-run single, giving Venezuela a 3-1 lead, which leads to them overcoming the Dominican Republic 5-1.
"No solo fue dominicana. Yo fallé, tenía la responsabilidad de lograr encabezar la victoria y no fue así, pero tengo la cabeza en alto y confío de que podremos hacer el trabajo", expresó Sandy Alcántara tras derrota.#EstrellasyRedes #ClasicoMundialDeBeisbol pic.twitter.com/IBFmadEX33
— EstrellasyRedes (@EstrellasyR) March 12, 2023
Being on a line-up full of all-stars, it is no guarantee that Jean Segura was going to step foot on the field during his time in the World Baseball Classic. This was frustrating for the Marlins because this is valuable time before the opener. Schumaker expressed how he felt about Segura getting the playing time he hoped he could with his time in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s challenging because Segura’s not playing,” Skip Schumaker said. “You would like Segura to play. I’m sure he would like to play as well, but that team’s stacked. It’s got to be challenging on that manager over there trying to find innings for all those guys. I mean, there’s just All-Stars everywhere you look. That part is challenging, but he wants to be part of it. He’s a good player. We’d like him to be here to build the chemistry and camaraderie with the group but we’re FaceTiming him and he’s in a good spot right now. But having to play a new position and not getting any reps over there, sure, we think about that and not getting at-bats. That part of it is, I wouldn’t say a concern, but we want him to play and I’m sure he wants to play.”
Schmaker’s prayers were answered when the DR went up against Israel. The infielder came into the game to hit with two players on base, one in first and the other in second, and two outs on the board. He delivered a massive, game-ending two-run double hit to give the Dominican Republic the 10-0 win over Israel in the bottom of the seventh inning with the mercy rule.
VICTORIA PARA REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA CONTRA ISRAEL CON LA DESTACADA JUGADA DE JEAN SEGURA
¡Jean Segura conecta un doble por el jardín derecho del LoanDepot Park de Miami! Así suma el conjunto dominicano 🇩🇴 10 carreras para dejar en el terreno a Israel 🇮🇱 pic.twitter.com/PCq6PcIiNx
— elcalmantedecapellan (@Jesuscapellan6) March 15, 2023
Johnny Cueto was the fourth in the Dominican Republic’s pitcher rotation, which put him on the mound for their game against Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the game did not line up for the DR as planned.
The left-handed pitcher was on the mound for two and a half innings, being taken out early because it was an elimination game. At first, he only allowed one hit in the first two innings. However, the third inning was rougher than expected.
Christian Vazquez started the inning with a massive 384-foot homer for Puerto Rico; this is where Cueto started to stumble. He let two players get on base, which caused him to be switched off for the next pitcher in the line-up. Unfortunately, this is where the Dominican Republic time in the World Baseball Classic, losing to Puerto Rico 5-2.
Los puertorriqueños atacaron al abridor dominicano Johnny Cueto en la parte alta de la tercera entrada, sacándolo de juego luego de permitirle un cuadrangular solitario a Christian Vázquez y dos sencillos de manera consecutiva #PrensaDiaria https://t.co/Su3kDSoKbn
— prensadiaria (@prensadiariaweb) March 16, 2023
Looking to Season Opener
With all three players heading back to Jupiter, Florida, for the rest of Spring Training, all their attention now shifts to the season opener on March 30th.