Found March 13, 2013 on Fox Sports:
No Justin Verlander, no Clayton Kershaw, no David Price. No Mike Trout, no Buster Posey, no Prince Fielder, no Josh Hamilton. And still, Team USA might be good enough to win the World Baseball Classic. Such an outcome might not be best for the future of the WBC, lulling American major leaguers into a false sense of complacency, enabling everyone to think, "Hey, we can win without our best." You know what, though? The bigger the tournament gets, the more players will want to participate. And who knows? By 2017, baseball might have a new commissioner, one who applies more pressure than Bud Selig on clubs -- and specifically managers and general managers -- to commit more fully to the WBC. Some might argue that a loss by Team USA in the semifinals or finals could produce a similar effect, spurring greater participation in '17. On the other hand, the U.S. loss to Japan in the '09 semis didn't create a rush among American players to sign up for the current WBC. And Team USA is pretty darned good, anyway. I'm not suggesting that the team, in the wake of Tuesday night's 7-1 trouncing of Puerto Rico, is a lock to win the tournament. But at the very least, it should advance to the championship round in San Francisco next week. The worst-case scenario for Team USA in this modified double-elimination round is that it will lose its next game to the Dominican Republic on Thursday, forcing it into a must-win game on Friday against Italy or Puerto Rico, two teams it already has beaten by a combined score of 13-3. Manager Joe Torre wouldn't buy into such talk -- "you have to remember, I'm the same manager that had a 3-0 lead on the Red Sox in '04," he joked. But third baseman David Wright seemed almost embarrassed by his five-RBI performance, citing the strength of the U.S. offense. Wright, batting between two left-handed hitters, Joe Mauer and Eric Hosmer, hit three times with the bases loaded following walks to Mauer. Puerto Rico tried to get through Wright with lefty Xavier Cedeno in the eighth inning. It was baseball checkmate: Cedeno threw Wright a tough slider, but Wright crushed it for a three-run double. "I'm not lying when I say that hitting in this lineup is ridiculous," Wright said. "I mean, you've got some of the best hitters in the game, and it creates a lot of matchups late in the game, like you saw." Torre actually batted Giancarlo Stanton eighth, and the choice was not illogical, particularly with the left-right-left rotation in the 4-5-6 spots. Adam Jones, who hit a two-run, go-ahead double with Team USA facing elimination against Canada on Sunday, batted seventh. Ben Zobrist, a switch-hitter who had an .848 OPS last season, batted ninth. If Team USA has a weak link, it probably is the starting rotation, but left-hander Gio Gonzalez's five scoreless innings against Puerto Rico perhaps changes that perspective as well. Gonzalez and R.A. Dickey -- the third- and first-place finishers for the National League Cy Young Award last season -- are lined up to pitch the semifinal and final in San Francisco, if Team USA qualifies. Dickey didn't fare well in his first WBC start, and he will face an electric Dominican lineup on Thursday. The outing will be only his fourth of the spring, and not even Dickey can venture a guess at how much his knuckleball will be moving. But let's not forget how good he was last season -- he and Gonzalez both. Before Tuesday night's game, a former major leaguer from Puerto Rio predicted "Carlos (Beltran) and Yadi (Molina) will get Gio -- Nats-Cards." The player's reference was to last year's Division Series, in which Gonzalez lasted only five innings in each of his two starts -- and issued a total of 11 walks. That was the hyper, emotional Gonzalez. This Gonzalez more closely resembled the guy who went 21-8 with a 2.89 ERA in the 2012 regular season. In mid-March he was in midseason form, throwing 69 pitches, 48 for strikes -- and issuing zero walks. A reporter asked Gonzalez afterward how he stayed composed; Gonzalez, calling himself "a small-town kid from Hialeah, Fla.," was pitching close to home, and pitching in a USA uniform for the first time. Gonzalez's answer pointed out another strength of the U.S. operation --the coaching staff. "Yeah, I was talking to Greg Maddux about that and asking him questions, how can I tunnel that, the noise and everything," Gonzalez said, referring to the Team USA pitching coach and future Hall of Famer. "He just broke it down to something simple -- think of fielding a routine groundball and just fishing or something, just take your mind off of it." Gonzalez said he understood Maddux's point immediately. He then mentioned Mauer, how the catcher's 6-foot-5 frame made him an easy target, how the two were so in sync, Gonzalez shook him off only once all night. It's fun pitching for a team like this -- the bullpen followed Gonzalez by allowing just one run in four innings, giving it a 2.00 ERA in four tournament games. It's fun playing for a team like this, absorbing the wisdom of Torre and coaches such as Maddux and Dale Murphy, mixing with so many fellow stars. The U.S. players might never display the same joy as the Dominicans, who poured out of their dugout to celebrate each run in their 5-4 comeback victory over Italy. But Jones, in a postgame tweet, noted the difference in the team's outlook now that it has survived its scare in the first round. "Everyone looked a lot looser tonight and it showed," Jones said. "We're all starting to get in that groove again." Wright, 7-for-16 with 10 RBIs, has had his groove for the entire WBC. He rapidly is becoming the face of Team USA, with MLB sending out tweets calling him, "Captain America." When a reporter asked Wright in his postgame news conference about the nickname, Gonzalez cracked, "Where's the shield?" In the buildup to the tournament, it almost seemed that the only American players who possessed unique baseball powers were the ones who were missing. Turns out that Wright also has some of those powers, and he isn't the only one. Twenty-eight players, 28 shields.

Justin Verlander plunked Mets’ Jordany Valdespin in a bad place, delivered Cy Young quote

(Associated Press) Spring training statistics don’t count for beans. But spring training quotes count for all the marbles.  After a subpar outing Monday, the best pitcher in baseball provided what might end up being the quote of the year in baseball. Mets young gun second baseman/outfielder Jordany Valdespin squared to bunt and took a Verlander fastball to the, uh, yeah.  Following...

Mets’ Jordany Valdespin took a 94-mph Justin Verlander fastball to the junk

New York 2nd baseman/outfielder Jordany Valdespin led off the Mets-Tigers Grapefruit League game earlier today by taking Detroit ace Justin Verlander deep for his third home run of the spring. Valdespin didn’t fare so well in his next at-bat against Verlander, when he took a 94-mph heater straight to the place no man ever wants to get hit with anything. Yep, Valdespin got nailed...

Jordany Valdespin wasn’t wearing a cup when Justin Verlander nailed him in the nuts

A lot was made of New York Mets utility man Jordany Valdespin being hit in the man region by a Justin Verlander fastball on Monday, but many people do not understand the severity of the situation. Fortunately, Valdespin’s health has checked out fine. The thing that made the situation so scary is that he was not wearing a protective cup. “You would think if you are starting at...

Jordany Valdespin hit in the groin by Justin Verlander pitch

Apparently, Jordany Valdespin was not wearing a cup when Justin Verlander hit him.  The Detroit Tigers' pitcher lost control of one of his pitches and it sailed inside to Valdespin.  Verlander says he instantly knew where it was going to get Valdespin.  Valdespin had not chance and was hit in the groin. According to Mike Puma of the New York Post, Valdespin's injury...

Justin Verlander, Jordany Valdespin React to Unfortunate Hit by Pitch

Jordany Valdespin left Monday’s game after taking a fastball in an uncomfortable spot. (Photo courtesy Justin Verlander endured a rough spring training outing on Monday, allowing five runs in 4.1 innings of an 11-0 loss to the New York Mets. He still walked out of Joker Marchant Stadium feeling better than the Mets’ Jordany Valdespin. With Verlander’s day winding down...

Jordany Valdespin got hit in the dick with a 94 MPH Verlander Speedball

He ain't the man right now. Jordany Valdespin took a Justin Verlander fastball to the groin. And the dope wasn't wearing a cup. Valdespin says he is OK ... Asked where he got hit: "My dick,"... Full story at Bob's Blitz ~

Verlander outpitched in shutout loss to Mets

LAKELAND, Fla. (AP) -- Jonathon Niese took another step toward earning an opening day start if Johan Santana is not ready, allowing one hit in 4 2-3 innings and leading the New York Mets to an 11-0 win over the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Tigers ace Justin Verlander had his first rocky outing of spring training, allowing five runs and two homers in 4 1-3 innings. He walked two, hit...

Kate Upton At Spring Training Watching Justin Verlander Pitch

Remember all the blogs that said Kate Upton and Justin Verlander had broken up because Miss Cleavage told some TV station that she was single? You didn’t see Busted Coverage falling for her ********. Look who watched Justin Verlander pitch today against the Mets. Of course JV was roughed up, allowing five runs over 4 1/3 innings. You know, he was just working on his stuff. Let’s...

New York Mets utility player takes fastball to the groin

And now for your painful story of the day.On Monday, the New York Mets squared off against Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander. The game started out with a bang for the Mets as leadoff man Jordany Valdespin took Verlander deep to get New York on the board early.Apparently, his jog around the bases was a little too hotdoggish.Because a couple of at-bats later, Valdespin's trip...

Mets utilityman can only hope that he can still reproduce

I am sure, that no matter where you take a 94-MPH fastball from Justin Verlander, it’s going to hurt. New York Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin took it in the one spot that no man ever wants to be hit. Oh, and he wasn’t wearing a piece of equipment that every single ball player should. We’ll let manager Terry Collins explain it to you: “You would think if you are starting...

Niese outpitches Verlander in Mets' win

Jonathon Niese knows he may get the ball on opening day if Johan Santana begins the season on the disabled list. The young left-hander is not taking anything for granted, though. Niese pitched one-hit ball for 4 2-3 innings, and the New York Mets roughed up Justin Verlander in an 11-0 victory over the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Starting the opener at home on April 1 against the...

A New Promotion

So there was an incident in Lakeland today with Jordany Valdespin was hit with a pitch by Justin Verlander during a Mets 11-0 victory over Detroit. Valdespin was hit in a sensitive area: Valdespin says he is OK ... Asked where he got hit: "My dick," Valdespin said. — Mike Puma (@NYPost_Mets) March 11, 2013 And there you have it, kids. We've gone from...
MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.