Christian Yelich | Excited to Represent
This is my first opportunity to play for Team USA. I’ve never done it before. It’s an honor. It’s very special to have the opportunity to play with all the other guys from around the league who you might only know from looking across the field at the other dugout.
I’ve tried to play for Team USA before. I went to the trials for the 18-and-under team in Cary, N.C., but I didn’t make the cut.
So I couldn’t pass this up. One of the big reasons for me is that I want to experience all the good things that baseball has to offer and this game gives us. Unfortunately, last year when we lost Jose Fernandez we found out how quickly this can all be taken away. So my thought is that when I have an opportunity I want to take it, enjoy it. I want to embrace the game of baseball.
Mr. Torre called me early in the offseason and asked me if I’d be interested in playing for Team USA and, obviously, I said, “Of course! I’d love to.” It was really cool. I grew up watching him manage the Yankees when they were winning all those World Series. I’m from Los Angeles, too, so I’d also had the chance to watch him manage the Dodgers.
Representing my country is important to me. My brother, Cameron, is in the Marine Corps. What he’s doing is a lot more important than playing in a baseball tournament for our country, but I’m happy that he’s excited about it. He’s in training now, so he isn’t here in Miami, but he’s going to try and follow as close as possible. He doesn’t always have access to TVs and internet, but he’ll try.
Cameron thought it was cool that I was asked to play for the team, but his first reaction was, “Is (Marcus) Stroman going to be there?” He likes Marcus a lot. As it turns out, I’m wearing No. 7 in this tournament and Marcus is wearing No. 6, so we have lockers next to each other. We were sitting on the bench together the other night, just hanging out, and I told Marcus, “Hey, you’re my brother’s favorite player.”
One teammate I’ve known for a long time is Nolan Arenado. We both grew up in Southern California and played travel ball together in high school. He came up to the majors a little before me in 2013 and then my debut was in Colorado. Now playing with him here for Team USA is pretty cool.
Nolan and I were talking the other night about how far we’ve both come and how things have changed but not really changed. We’ve both come a long way but we’re still both playing baseball and now we’re on the same team together again, just with a different uniform. Nolan has become one of the best players in the game, so I’m really happy to see him have all the success he’s had. I know he’s worked very hard to get here.
I’m probably most excited just to learn from all of my teammates. We’ve been going to dinners, just talking the game of baseball. You have to kind of step back a little and realize that these are some of the best players in the game and you have this amazing opportunity to go to dinner with them and talk about the game and hitting and all of that.
It’s such a unique experience. The only time you really get to do something like this is in the WBC. I’ve never been on an All-Star team but in a lot of ways this is more fun. An All-Star Game is just a few days. You’re in and out. But this could last two and a half weeks. You’re actual teammates with these great players and you get to know them and you’re working toward the common goal of winning games for the United States of America. I just think that’s so unbelievably cool.
This tournament is very serious baseball and all the guys on the team are taking it that way. Nobody wants to just show up and have fun for a few days. We’re here to have fun and win. We’ve got to take care of business tonight when we play Colombia, obviously, and we’re certainly not taking that for granted, but the game against the Dominican team tomorrow night -- that atmosphere, that crowd – is going to be different from anything most of us have experienced before.
I can’t wait to get started.
Check out some more photos of Christian and his Team USA teammates: