By Danny Mehigan
The reps of the Reds have completed Round One of the World Baseball Classic, 2009 edition. So we shall review their performances loosely based on the games I did watch and the recaps from around the Interwebs of the games I didn’t watch.
Alexander Smit, RP: Smit appeared in three games as a short reliever for the Netherlands, going 2.1 IP, giving up two hits, walking two and getting two strikeouts. There isn’t much to discuss with middle relievers that have a whole bunch of short outings, is there? I bet his family name is Smith but someone forgot the ‘h’ and they just rolled with it. Just a hunch.
Juan Carlos Sulbaran, RP: Only pitched once for the Netherlands, but went a strong 1.1 IP while giving up two hits, hitting a batter and getting one strikeout. Also, Sulbaran threw a pitch to the backstop so wild and so hard that the tying run for Puerto Rico could not score from third – likely out of sheer amazement.
Joey Votto, 1B: Even though the Canucks bombed, Votto was on point. He went 5-for-9 with two doubles and an absolute monster home run off Jake Peavy. He was definitely the bright spot for the Canadians, eh?
Yen-Wen Kuo, SS: While the Chinese Taipei squad was awful, you can’t blame it on Kuo. He went 1-for-3 as a late sub in both games they lost.
Johnny Cueto, SP: Cueto got the only win on the mound for the Dominicans, throwing 4 2/3 shutout innings against Panama. He gave up three hits, walked one and struck out five. He looked sharp, and should be ready for a complete breakout season in Cincinnati.
Edinson Volquez, SP: Volquez was a hard luck loser against the Netherlands in game one, giving up three unearned runs in three innings. He got a lot of face time from ESPN since he always has a dazed look on his face, and that was priceless considering they lost to the Netherlands twice, so as they say, any publicity is good publicity. A+ work, Señor Volquez.
Willy Taveras, OF: Taveras managed to hit only .286 (2-of-7) but have an on-base percentage of .615 thanks to six walks in just three games. However, his most glaring stat is one caught stealing, which came when he tried to procure third base in the ninth inning against the Netherlands in game one. He was cut down, and so were Los Dominicana.
Jerry Hairston Jr., SS: Hairston went 4-for-11 as the primary shortstop for Team México but looked like a real jackass compared to his teammates. Evidently, Mexicans love dingers. And Hairston’s OPS of .955 (12th on his team) likely made him the fodder of his teammates’ jokes all week.
Ramón Hernández, C: Hernández went 3-for-9 for Venezuela in Round One, knocking a double and a dinger. And that home run, which ended up in the third deck of the Rogers Centre – it looked like an 18-year-old teeing off on Little League pitching. And anytime you can show someone up like that, I’m all for it.