After months of speculation, the World Baseball Classic rosters were finally announced on Thursday and the Rockies will be represented by seven players and two coaches. The total of nine players and coaches are on nine different teams, which could mean some interesting Rockies matchups — especially if you add in former Rockies.
Rockies take on the World!— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) February 10, 2023
Hitting coach, Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens will manage Team Netherlands, Yard Goats Manager Chris Denorfia is on the Team Italy staff. Also, Rockies Minor Leaguer Michael Petersen will be competing for Team Great Britain in the World Baseball Classic. pic.twitter.com/nfxLJYAylp
The tournament begins on March 7 and will go through March 21 when the championship will be held in Miami. While Rockies fans are tracking spring training competitions, we’ll also be able to turn into the WBC and see some of our favorites in action.
Daniel Bard, U.S.A.
Bard has become one of the greatest relievers in Rockies history and will make his WBC debut at age 37. After recovering from the yips, he returned with a bang – posting a 3.65 ERA and saving 100% of his opportunities to earn the NL Comeback Players of the Year award. He struggled in 2021, but rallied back to post a 1.79 ERA in an All-Star-worthy campaign that didn’t earn him a spot in the Midsummer Classic. Instead, he’ll get to represent his country as the only Rockie on the United States squad. He’ll pitch alongside former Rockie Adam Ottovino as part of a nine-armed bullpen. Bard will be reunited with former Rockie Nolan Arenado as the U.S. tries to repeat as champions after winning in 2017. Kyle Freeland had initially committed to the team, but wasn’t one of the seven starters announced on Thursday’s final roster. It’s a competitive list with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Adam Wainwright, Nestor Cortes, Merrill Kelly, and Lance Lynn. Kyle Newman of the Denver Post tweeted about the development.
#Rockies LHP Kyle Freeland was originally billed as one of Team USA’s pitchers for World Baseball Classic, but he was left off the final roster. Needless to say Freeland’s camp isn’t pleased— Kyle Newman (@KyleNewmanDP) February 10, 2023
Team U.S.A. will take on Great Britain on March 11 in their first game of the tournament. The U.S. is in Pool C, which will play its games in Phoenix, with Mexico, Colombia, Canada, and Great Britain.
Germán Márquez, Venezuela
Márquez, the Rockies No. 1 pitcher, is as key to Venezuela’s success as he will be to the Rockies in 2023. The 2021 All-Star lost his way in 2022, posting his highest ERA (4.95) in his career since his rookie year in 2016. If he’s able to regain control of his pitches and boost his confidence in the WBC for Venezuela, a team that is favored to finish in the top five, maybe his success could carry over for Colorado this season. Márquez will be joined by former Rockie Jhoulys Chacín, who has the sixth-best WAR for pitchers in Colorado history at 14. In MLB’s initial announcement on Thursday, they incorrectly said that Yonathan Daza would be on the team, but that’s not the case as only three outfielders made the cut: Ronald Acuña Jr., David Peralta, and Anthony Santander. Venezuela will open the WBC with a showdown against the Dominican Republic, the team is favored to win the 2023 WBC, on March 11. Both teams are in Pool D, which will play its pool games in Miami, along with Puerto Rico, Israel, and Nicaragua.
Elias Díaz, Colombia
Díaz is one of three catchers playing for Colombia. After a breakout season in 2021 and signing a three-year contract with the Rockies, the 32-year-old dropped off in power and average in 2022. Maybe he can also rediscover his mojo like Márquez this year in the WBC. Díaz is from Venezuela, but is one of many Venezuelan-born players who have been recruited by Colombia and are eligible to play for the country because they have citizenship in Colombia or have a parent who was born in that country or has/had citizenship in that country.
Alan Trejo, Mexico
The 26-year-old infielder is headed into his third year for the Rockies and his first in the WBC. Trejo has played in 63 games over the last two seasons for the Rockies, hitting .256/.297/.396 with 20 RBI, 22 runs, eight doubles, and five homers in 164 at-bats. With the arrival of Ezequiel Tovar at shortstop, Trejo will be battling for playing time with the Rockies and is one of seven infielders on Team Mexico. Díaz and Trejo will play against each other when Colombia and Mexico play each other on March 11.
Justin Lawrence, Panama
The Rockies hard-throwing, side-armed reliever will be suiting up for Team Panama. The 29-year-old righty came to the United States when he was 2 years old because his father, Lionel, wanted him to have a better life with the chance for a quality education. Playing baseball and showing talent, Justin and his dad planned to keep playing and studying hard, with Lionel demanding straight A’s and Justin delivering. He landed a scholarship, transferred to another school, and then was drafted by the Rockies in 2016. Lawrence averages 97 mph with his sinker fastball, but also struggles with command and being hit hard at times. This could be a good chance to show the world what he can do. Panama will start off with two games on March 8 against Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands. Italy and Cuba make up the rest of Pool A, which will play its games in Tawain.
Jake Bird, Israel
Bird made his MLB debut with the Rockies last season, appearing in 47 2/3 inning over 38 games with a 4.91 ERA, 42 strikeouts, and 23 walks. The 27-year-old righty was drafted by the Rockies in the fifth round in 2018 after a four-year career at UCLA. Israel made a surprise 4-2 run in the 2017 WBC to finish in sixth place. He’ll be one of 14 MLB players trying to help Israel’s team have a strong showing again. Israel will play its first game against Nicaragua.
Michael Petersen, Great Britain
The Rockies claimed the RHP off waivers after the 2019 season, only to then have him miss action in 2020 because of the pandemic canceling the MiLB season. He didn’t play in 2021 and only played one game in 2022 for the ACL Rockies, pitching one inning and striking out two without giving up any hits. At 6-foot-7, the 28-year-old has a lot of potential if he can spend more time on the mound.
The Rockies new hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens, who is from Curaçao, is managing the Netherlands. Double-A Hartford Yard Goat manager Chris Denorfia is part of the Team Italy coaching staff. The Netherlands will take on Cuba in the opening game on March 7.
All WBC players will report early to spring training with pitchers and catchers arriving on Feb. 13 (two days before non-WBC players) and position players scheduled for Feb. 16 (four days before non-WBC players).
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Sean Keeler is the latest to yell into the void, begging Dick Monfort to sell the team. While the new Broncos ownership is showing that they are willing to spend money and want to win, they have yet to win. Monfort spends some money (not very wisely), but doesn’t prioritize winning or changing. Even if the Waltons were interested, it’s hard to imagine the Monforts ever selling. Even if it’s not realistic, Keeler does have some good lines and it is validating to read. It’s still fun to dream.
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