As we've discovered, the World Baseball Classic means much more to other countries than it does to the United States, and that is evident when you look at the rosters for the world tournament, which is now underway.
Two of the countries that care most about it, and subsequently are two of the best teams, are the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, who squared off on Thursday in Puerto Rico in what could be a preview of the championship, or at least have the quality of players resembling a championship game.
The Dominican Republic smashed Venezuela 9-3, helped by two hits and two RBIs from Texas Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz, who out-played his Rangers teammate, shortstop Elvis Andrus. Andrus went 1-for-5 for Venezuela, while the Venezuelans were hurt by 2012 Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera, who went 0-for-4 and stranded three runners.
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Cruz was leading, and still leads, the Rangers in spring RBIs with six when he left Arizona to join the Dominican team in the WBC. Andrus was hitting .286 with an RBI, a double and a .375 on-base percentage in his six spring games before leaving to join Venezuela.
Rangers slugger Adrian Beltre is hoping to join the Dominican team for the second round of pool play after nursing a calf injury that caused him to miss the first part of spring training. He hit his first home run of the spring on Thursday.