Results tagged ‘ World Baseball Classic ’

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

3/7 Italy & Rizzo beat Mexico

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run, go-ahead double with one out in the ninth off Sergio Romo to lift Team Italy to a 6-5 come from behind victory over Mexico in the World Baseball Classic. Rizzo also singled in the first inning off former Cubs pitcher Rodrigo Lopez. Italy faces Canada on Friday at Chase Field; the game was moved because of the forecast for rain.

— Carrie Muskat

3/6 Italy loses to Angels

Anthony Rizzo went 0-for-2, striking out twice, as Team Italy lost, 12-6, to the Angels in an exhibition game in Tempe on Wednesday. Next up for the Italian team is its first game in the World Baseball Classic on Thursday against Mexico, and it will follow that with a game against Canada on Friday. Italy will face Team USA on Saturday night. All of the games will be played at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale.

The Italy team is the underdog in its pool but its manager Marco Mazzieri recalls a win over Team USA in the 2007 Baseball World Cup.

“This is one of the first things I told my guys when I took over in 2007: One single game, you never know what can happen,” he said. “Maybe they kind of underestimate us and they don’t go out as ready as they should. If we pitch good and minimize mistakes, we can maximize results.”

— Carrie Muskat

1/18 Castro, Soriano say no to Classic

Starlin Castro would like to play in the World Baseball Classic someday but said no to the Dominican Republic team this year because it already has Jose Reyes on the roster.

“Every year I want to be better,” Castro said Friday at the Cubs Convention. “Every year, I work hard to be better than I was the year before. That’s why I’m working now, that’s why I’m not going to the World Baseball Classic. I won’t play for the Dominican because it’s more important for me to be ready for the [Cubs]. I want to help the [Cubs].”

Moises Alou, who is involved in the selection of the Dominican roster, had asked Castro during the season about playing in the Classic.

“I don’t want to be on the bench,” Castro said. “Jose Reyes is there, and I have respect for him, and I’d be on the bench. It’s better for me to be working and play every day in Spring Training. If I go, I’d play one day, two days a week. I don’t want that. I want to work.”

He said it was difficult to say no.

“It’s one of my goals to play for my country, and it’s tough for me [to say no],” Castro said. “But it’s not the last one. I know I’ll be there.”

Alfonso Soriano also said no to Alou because the veteran outfielder needs more time to prepare in Spring Training for the season.

“Moises called but I felt it was better for me to be with the Cubs,” said Soriano.

— Carrie Muskat

1/14 Rizzo to play for Italy

Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo will play for Team Italy in the World Baseball Classic. The Classic rosters will be officially released on Thursday but Rizzo confirmed on Monday that he will join the Italian team.

Italy will open the Classic March 7 against Mexico, playing in Scottsdale, Ariz., and be in the same bracket as Team Canada and the U.S. squad.

Shortstop Starlin Castro reportedly told media in the Dominican Republic that he was going to play for that team in the Classic, but the Cubs have not confirmed that.

The Cubs have had players participate in the World Baseball Classic in the past. In 2006, Michael Barrett and Derrek Lee played for Team USA, and Henry Blanco and Carlos Zambrano played for Venezuela. In 2009, Kosuke Fukudome played for the Japanese team, Ted Lilly pitched for Team USA, Alex Maestri pitched for the Italian squad, Carlos Marmol played for the Dominican team, Vince Perkins pitched for Team Canada, and Geovany Soto played for Puerto Rico.

— Carrie Muskat

6/25 Geovany Soto

Cubs catcher Geovany Soto tested positive for marijuana use during the 2009 World Baseball Classic, and is ineligible to compete in international play for two years. The positive test does not affect his playing time in Major League Baseball with the Cubs.

“I am embarrassed by my lapse in judgement,” Soto said in a statement Thursday.

Why the test results were being released now is not clear. Soto has undergone drug testing regularly in his career, and this is the only positive test at any point.

Soto has “assured the Cubs this was an isolated incident and a misstep in judgement that will not be repeated,” the team said in a statement.

“While I fully acknowledge my inappropriate behavior, I want to assure my fans and my family that this was an isolated incident,” Soto said in his statement. “I do not say this to minimize or deflect from my conduct and I fully understand the ramifications of my actions. I have and will accept any and all consequences.”

Soto, the 2008 National League Rookie of the Year, played for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic. He was not in the Cubs’ lineup Thursday.

— Carrie Muskat

A Classic: Lilly vs. Soto

Cubs pitcher Ted Lilly was expected to start Tuesday night for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic vs. Puerto Rico in Miami. Cubs catcher Geovany Soto could be behind the plate for Puerto Rico. Whoever loses is eliminated, so one of those two Cubs would be coming back to Mesa and camp.

Who are the Cubs players rooting for?

“I root for Lilly,” Cubs pitcher Ryan Dempster said.

“Lilly — he’s American, I’m American,” Micah Hoffpauir said. “I like Geo, too.”

“Geo,” Cubs catcher Welington Castillo said. “He’s my buddy.”

“I’m going to say Lilly, but that’s my catcher, too,” Jeff Samardzija said.

“I have to go with USA,” Jake Fox said. “Geo’s one of my favorite clubhouse guys but I have to root for my country.”

Andres Blanco had the best answer.

“Both are good,” Blanco said. “Can I go ‘even’?”

— Carrie Muskat

Carlos the closer

Carlos Marmol said Friday he may not pitch for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic, saying he wants to focus on getting ready for the upcoming season with the Cubs. “I want to be the closer here,” Marmol said. He was to speak with Dominican manager Felipe Alou and expected to announce a decision on Saturday.

— Carrie Muskat

Tidbits from Wednesday workout

Hitters will face live pitchers, as opposed to coaches throwing batting practice, on Friday at Fitch Park. The Cubs begin Cactus League play on Feb. 25, so there are plenty of games, but not as much time to get ready for them.

Lou Piniella said he’s not worried about Kosuke Fukudome missing time in Cubs camp. Fukudome is training with the Japan team for the World Baseball Classic, and Piniella reported that he played in an intrasquad game Tuesday and apparently played all three outfield positions. Fukudome will be moving from right to center with the Cubs.

— Carrie Muskat

Carlos vs. Carlos

Carlos Zambrano may not be playing in the World Baseball Classic, but Carlos Marmol will. Marmol was expected to be the Dominican Republic team’s closer. He’s not worried about being overused. “The innings I don’t pitch in Spring Training are innings I will pitch there,” Marmol said.

Besides Zambrano, Angel Guzman also will not pitch for the Venezuelan team. Cubs coach Ivan DeJesus will be on the Puerto Rican team’s staff and can keep an eye on catcher Geovany Soto, who was on that team’s provisional roster.

— Carrie Muskat