José Bautista | Unity Defines Team DR
I wasn’t able to participate in the last World Baseball Classic because of minor surgery, but this year’s tournament has been a lot of fun since the first day of practice. From the moment everybody walked in we’ve had unity. The thing we’ve all been talking about is staying together and pulling the rope in the same direction. So far, we’ve been able to walk the walk.
Some of the guys who committed early and confirmed they were going to participate -- like myself, Jose Reyes, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz -- we kept in touch during the offseason and talked among ourselves about how much fun we were going to have and how excited we were.
There was a lot of anticipation among players all around the league leading up to the tournament, particularly for our game against the US.
From the first day of spring training, my Blue Jays teammate Marcus Stroman kept telling me he wanted to pitch against us, that he wanted the baseball and he was going to let Team USA know that. And he did take the ball and did a hell of a job. He kept a pretty tough lineup at bay and shut us out. His performance shouldn’t be overshadowed because they lost the game.
The energy in the ballpark in Miami was incredible. When the stadium is full, whether it’s your fans or fans rooting for the other team, it brings you to another level and you find a way to use that energy in your favor.
But personally, I would much rather have people rooting for me. So to say I enjoyed the games in Miami would be an understatement. Even though we were in the United States, everybody knows there’s a huge baseball-loving Latin population in Miami, so we were happy so many people came out to support us and we were able to win the first round.
We’re confident and we go out there and try to execute and create situations to score runs by having good at-bats. We’ve been very unselfish in the way we go about it.
When we have nobody on base, we have guys doing whatever they need to do to get on base. When runners need to be moved over and at-bats need to be grinded out, we do those things. We’ve waited pitchers out for mistakes out over the plate and tried to make them pay for it.
But while we’re confident as a team about our ability and approach, we don’t take any opponent for granted in this type of tournament. These teams are full of great players.
Six-time All-Star Jose Bautista, a 13-year veteran who is seventh among active players with 308 career home runs, previously played in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.