Results tagged ‘ World Baseball Classic ’

Veras returns to Kissimmee a champion

Fresh off his country’s victory in the World Baseball Classic, Astros relief pitcher Jose Veras returned to camp on Thursday and was beaming with 0322 001pride Friday morning while talking about the Dominican Republic’s performance. The Dominicans closed out their undefeated run to the Classic title in convincing fashion with a 3-0 defeat of Puerto Rico on Tuesday night in San Francisco.

“It was something that can’t explain,” Veras said. “It was unbelievable to be there and the feeling you have, the pressure you have in each game is impressive. The first two games I was there I couldn’t imagine it was going to have that intensity, it’s going to be that tough, and then after that you’re starting to find out the spirit of the game and the way we play, it was like World Series games.”

Veras pitched in two games for the Dominican, throwing 1 2/3 innings, but the chance to contribute for the win and share it with his fellow countrymen was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“We always prayed to God to have the victory and prayed to God to do our job, to do our best because some people don’t think we can make it, some people didn’t think we could do it because guys were thinking we were missing All-Star players, but it’s not about names,” Veras said. “It’s was about one goal and that’s why we won every game and played with our heart every day, and that was the way we made it.”

Veras will now turn his attention to the Astros. He hasn’t pitched in a Grapefruit League game since March 1, and he’s the clear favorite to begin the season as the team’s closer.

“I’m probably going to pitch three or four or five more times before we leave,” Veras said. “We’re going to be OK knowing I have to focus on my job here and to prepare for a long season. The WBC is over and thank God we win, and now I have to focus forward.”

Here is the Astros’ starting lineup:

2B Jose Altuve

LF Brandon Barnes

DH Chris Carter

CF Justin Maxwell

1B Brandon Laird

C Jason Castro

RF J.D. Martinez

3B Matt Dominguez

SS Tyler Greene

RHP Bud Norris

Veras thrilled to represent his country

Astros closer Jose Veras was beaming with pride Friday morning at the thought of being able to represent his native Dominican Republic at the World Baseball Classic. Veras was on the Dominican roster that was released Thursday.

“You can’t explain the feeling any player can have to represent their flag,” he said. “I think it’s going to be wonderful.”

Veras said he made the decision to play earlier this week after getting approval from general manager Jeff Luhnow. It’s special to Veras, considering he wasn’t allowed to play in the 2009 Classic.

“I was supposed to play in the last one, but the Yankees didn’t let me for a couple of circumstances,” Veras said

Veras, 32, went 5-4 with a 3.63 earned run average last season in 72 games and 67 innings for Milwaukee before signing a one-year deal with Houston. He knows this will be his final opportunity to play in the tournament.

“It’s probably going to be my last chance,” he said. “My next one I’ll be 36, 37 and I don’t know if they’ll give me an opportunity, so this is my chance to do it.”

Astros right-hander Rhiner Cruz (Spain), left-hander Xavier Cedeno (Puerto Rico) and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin (Chinese Taipei) also appeared on final rosters, as expected. Lin left camp Wednesday to train with his team. Minor League pitcher Murilo Gouvea is on Brazil’s final roster.

Martinez backs out of World Baseball Classic

Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez arrived in camp Tuesday morning and said he’s not going to play in the World Baseball Classic. Martinez was going to play for Spain, though he was born in the Dominican Republic.

“I’m not going to play,” he said. “I’m going to stay here and prepare for the season.”

Martinez, claimed off waivers from the Mets a year ago, hit .237 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 118 at-bats last year for Houston, playing in a career-high 41 games. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said earlier this year Martinez would hurt his chances of making the club by playing in the Classic, and Martinez heard the message.

“I just thought about and I figured it would be a lost couple of weeks and I want to make the team here,”  he said.

Astros pitcher Chia-Jen Lo was originally scheduled to participate in the Classic as well, but had a change of heart.

Astros have 6 players on World Baseball Classic rosters

Six players from the Astros organization have been selected to play in the World Baseball Classic: outfielder Fernando Martinez (Spain), right-hander Rhiner Cruz (Spain) and left-hander Xavier Cedeno (Puerto Rico), right-handed pitcher Murilo Gouvea (Brazil), outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin (Chinese Taipei) and right-hander Chia-Jen Lo (Chinese Taipei).

Provisional rosters were due on Wednesday, but all 16 teams have until Feb. 20 to file their formal rosters.

Click here for complete World Baseball Classic information.

Martinez, claimed off waivers from the Mets a year ago, hit .237 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 118 at-bats last year for Houston, playing in a career-high 41 games. Though he’s playing for Spain, he was born in the Dominican Republic.

Cruz, who was also born in the Dominican Republic, appeared in 52 games in his rookie season in 2012, posting a 6.05 ERA. He was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2011 Rule 5 Draft and ranked fifth among NL rookies in appearances.

Cedeno, a native of Puerto Rico, appeared in 44 games in two stints with the Astros last year after beginning the year at Triple-A Oklahoma City. He posted a 3.77 ERA, closing the season with 12 consecutive scoreless outings.

Lo, who missed almost all of the 2010-11 seasons after undergoing Tommy John surgery, made it back to the mound last year and appeared in 10 games between the Gulf Coast League and Class A Lancaster.

Lin, claimed off waivers from Boston in October, spent most of his 2012 season at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he hit .247 with 11 doubles, 30 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and a .323 on-base percentage. He had four stints on the Red Sox active roster last season, hitting .250 in nine games, which marks his only Major League experience.

Gouvea, who was born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, went 2-7 with a 3.70 ERA in 50 games in relief last year at Class A Lexington.

Brazil is in Pool A with Japan, China and Cuba and will have round robin play March 2-6 in Japan. Chinese Taipei is in Pool B with Korea, the Netherlands and Australia and will have pool play March 2-5 in Taiwan.

Puerto Rico and Spain are both in Pool C and will hold round robin play March 7-10 in Puerto Rico. The championship round will be held March 17-19 in San Francisco.

Starting pitchers are restricted to 65 pitches in the first round, 80 in the second and 95 in the semifinals and finals. A starter must take four days off if he throws more than 50 pitches.

Relievers can pitch on back-to-back days if they don’t exceed 30 pitches the first day. Throw 30 in a game and you must take one off. After back-to-back appearances, regardless of pitch counts, pitchers must get a day off.

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