A few days have passed since Alejandro De Aza and the Dominican Republic captured the World Baseball Classic crown. With that, let’s take a look at how each of the four White Sox participants fared in the event.
ALEJANDRO DE AZA
As mentioned above, De Aza helped his native Dominican Republic win their first WBC title, defeating the Puerto Ricans and fellow Sox outfielder Alex Rios in the title game.
It was the first time in the history of the event that a nation other than Japan won the championship, as the Japanese captured the title in both 2006 and 2009.
De Aza was actually a late add to the squad after Milwaukee’s Carlos Gomez declined an invitation (why the DR would actually have Gomez above De Aza on any sort of priority list, I have no idea). While Alejandro probably did not hit as well as he would have liked to (just .208), he started all eight games in center field and played stellar defense (video), making some great plays in the semi-final and final games.
He hit predominantly out of the nine hole, as Jose Reyes occupied the lead-off spot for manager and former White Sox catcher Tony Pena. With a guy like De Aza as the caboose of your lineup, it’s easy to see why the Dominican Republic went a perfect 8-0 in the classic.
Alex Rios and the Puerto Ricans played more games than anyone in the classic with nine, as they had to win a few elimination games in round two (one of those knocking off the United States). Rios was expected to be the team’s three hitter for the event, but struggles prompted manager Edwin Rodriguez to move the slumping Rios to the six-hole for the final round.
However, Rios responded, hitting an absolute bomb in the seventh inning of the semi-final game against Japan to seal the victory. All in all, Rios hit just .179 in the event, with the one home run and two RBI from the semi-final game.
Ever since 2007, I’ve claimed that Andy Gonzalez was the worst White Sox player I’ve ever seen. The memory of watching Gonzalez make three errors in an inning at third base in a game against the Rangers that season has been imprinted in my mind forever.
However, in the WBC, he played better than player I make him out to be. Now back with the White Sox on a minor league contract, Gonzalez was the starting third baseman on team Puerto Rico. While he didn’t hit well (a .130 average while hitting predominantly eighth for Edwin Rodgriuez), Gonzalez got maybe the biggest hit of the tournament for the Puerto Ricans: a two-run double off USA reliever Vinnie Pestano to give Puerto Rico a 4-0 lead. PR would win the game 4-3, making Gonzalez’s double the difference.
Ironically, he also did not commit one error at third base in eight games.
While he’s one of the top prospects in the Sox system, Rienzo may not have gone into the WBC too confident after getting absolutely shelled in the outing before he departed. However, in his one outing for team Brazil, he may have had one of the most impressive outings out of anyone in the entire classic.
Against a very strong Cuban team, Rienzo took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. He would reach his pitch count in the fifth, suffering the loss while giving up two runs, one hit, and four walks while striking out two. While Rienzo didn’t get the victory and Brazil would go 0-3 in the tournament, Rienzo showed flashes as to why the White Sox are so high on him by dominating a great Cuban team for four-plus innings.