Mike Trout’s expectations for the World Baseball Classic were high. He had been looking forward to the event since Team USA won the last tournament in 2017. The Angels’ superstar center fielder was the first player to commit to play for the U.S. this time around and helped recruit some of the other stars on the roster. But the experience has surpassed even his highest expectations.
“This is the funnest experience I have had on the baseball field, to represent your country,” Trout said. “It’s been a blast.”
Trout spoke Wednesday night after leading Team USA to a 3-2 win over Colombia that advanced the Americans to the quarterfinals Saturday against Venezuela in Miami. Sitting on the other side of the table were Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and a special guest, his daughter Kynlee.
Betts and Trout powered Team USA’s offense atop the lineup, combining for five hits, three RBI and two runs scored. The duo, two of the brightest stars in the world, shone together. It was an illustration of the WBC’s potential. A few hours earlier, another one — a darker one — played out across the country.
Puerto Rico closer Edwin Díaz, moments after closing out the Dominican Republic to advance to the quarterfinals, sustained a right knee injury during the team’s celebration. Díaz was carried off the field before being put in a wheelchair. The New York Mets, his parent club, said Diaz suffered a right patellar tendon and was expected to have surgery on Thursday. He is probably out for the season, a devastating development for a World Series contender.
The sequence quickly produced a raging debate on social media over the event’s legitimacy and risks involved so close to the start of a regular season. Trout and Betts, both participating for the first time, defended the tournament.
“Those things, they can happen to anybody at any given time,” Betts said. “And you can always try and place blame on the WBC, but that’s just a freak accident that could happen to anyone at any given time.
“This is so much fun. It’s so much fun. And this is way better than getting four at-bats in the back fields. I encourage those who are watching, come join, come play for Team USA, because this is a lot of fun.”
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