3/17 No fraternizing for Villanueva
Carlos Villanueva’s next start will be Friday against his former team, the Brewers, and hopefully, they’ll understand if the Cubs pitcher doesn’t say hello before the game. Villanueva believes players from opposing teams should not mingle on the field.
“When it’s time for business, I’m all business,” the right-hander said. “I’m sure they’ll try to mess with me somehow.”
Last year in Toronto, Villanueva said he would dash to right field during batting practice to avoid mingling with any players from the visiting team headed to the batting cages in left.
“I don’t want to see you or talk to you before the game because if I have to put one in your neck — hopefully it doesn’t come to that — but I won’t feel as comfortable doing it,” Villanueva said. “Outside of the stadium, we can chat all you want. In here, sorry.
“If you’re a pitcher, we’ll be best buds,” he said. “You won’t be facing me. If you’re a hitter, I don’t care where you’re from. It’ll be all business in here. I have to explain it a little bit to some of the guys.”
The Brewers know that about Villanueva but he also anticipates some razzing.
“It’s just the way I am,” he said. “I believe in the rule about no camaraderie before the game. I’m all for enforcing that rule 1 million percent. We’re competing out there. Don’t go behind second base and chat away. We’re going to compete. That’s how I see it.”
He also feels strongly about supporting his native Dominican Republic teammates in the World Baseball Classic.
“The last game [against Team USA], I got two calls from the front desk at my hotel, telling me to keep it down,” Villanueva said of the Domincan’s 3-1 win over the U.S. in Miami. “I’m whistling and clapping. I think I was more nervous than those guys there.
“It’s definitely exciting,” he said of the Dominican team’s games. “You see the style of baseball, it’s non-stop noise from inning one, and that’s why you see all those young Latin guys coming up and they’re unfazed by the big leagues. You pitch with that type of pressure — you’ve got your family, your friends, and there’s a lot of garbage being talked. It’s definitely a way to prepare for the big stage here.”
He is aware the Dominicans may not have as large and loud a following as they did in Miami.
“We all wish we could be there,” Villanueva said. “We have to take care of business here first.”
— Carrie Muskat