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Mets Francisco Lindor, Tigers Javy Baez Give Puerto Rico Strong Middle Infield at WBC

 Leif Skodnick  |    Feb 23rd, 2023 11:28am EST

By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network

Puerto Rico returns to the World Baseball Classic once again, with an overall record of 20-9. The island went undefeated until the championship game in the 2017 WBC, but lost 8-0 in the championship game to the USA. Marcus Stroman, the starting pitcher for the USA in the 2017 WBC championship game, will pitch for Puerto Rico in 2023. 

Puerto Rico will be led by the returning duo of New York Mets second baseman Francisco Lindor and Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez. Lindor and Baez played together on both the 2017 Puerto Rico squad, and briefly in 2021 when Baez went to the Mets at the trade deadline. Lindor is regarded as an elite shortstop, putting together a 5.4 WAR season in 2022. Javier Baez was a ray of sunshine on a rather disappointing Detroit Tigers roster last season. He hit 17 home runs and stole nine bases to contribute to 2.5 WAR. 

The Puerto Rico pitching staff features numerous MLB All-Stars and several solid arms. Marcus Stroman and Jose Berrios will be their one-two punch. Stroman, whose mother is Puerto Rican, decided he wanted to represent her side of the family. 

“It just felt right… I’m excited. I’m excited to play for Puerto Rico and represent my mother’s side,” Stroman told the Chicago Sun-Times last year when he announced that he’d play for Puerto Rico. 

Berrios had a down year with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2022, but is not far removed from a 204 strikeout season in 2021 with Minnesota. 

Francisco Lindor’s Met teammate Edwin Diaz will be the closer for Puerto Rico. The flamethrower struck out 118 hitters in 62 innings pitched. His brother, Alexis Diaz, will also come out of the bullpen. 

Puerto Rico will be managed by future Hall of Famer catcher Yadier Molina, who just recently retired from the MLB after the 2022 season. The 10 time all-star and nine time Gold Glove award winner spent his entire 19 year career with the St. Louis Cardinals. 

Puerto Rico will compete in Pool D with Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Israel, and Nicaragua. All of their contests in the first round will be played at LoanDepot Park, home of the Miami Marlins, from March 11-15. Their first game of the World Baseball Classic will be against Nicaragua on March 11 at 12:00 p.m. EST on Fox. 

Puerto Rico World Baseball Classic Roster 

Pitchers (Team)
Marcus Stroman (Chicago Cubs) 
Jose Berrios (Toronto Blue Jays) 
Jovani Morgan (Minnesota Twins) 
Emilio Pagan (Minnesota Twins) 
Jorge Lopez (Minnesota Twins) 
Edwin Diaz (New York Mets)
Alexis Diaz (Cincinnati Reds) 
Dereck Rodriguez (Minnesota Twins) 
Dominic Hamel (New York Mets) 
Jose De Leon (Minnesota Twins) 
Duane Underwood Jr. (Pittsburgh Pirates) 
Yacksel Rios (Atlanta Braves)
Hector Santiago (Free Agent) 
Nicholas Padilla (Chicago White Sox)
Anthony Maldonado (Miami Marlins)
Fernando Cruz (Cincinnati Reds)

Catchers (Team)
Martin Maldonado (Houston Astros) 
Christian Vasquez (Minnesota Twins) 
MJ Melendez (Kansas City Royals) 

Infielders (Team)
Jose Miranda (Minnesota Twins) 
Javier Baez (Detroit Tigers)
Francisco Lindor (New York Mets)
Emmanuel Rivera (Arizona Diamondbacks) 
Neftali Soto (Yokohama Baystars) 
Vimael Machin (Philadelphia Phillies) 
Edwin Diaz (Boston Red Sox)

Outfielders (Team)
Eddie Rosario (Atlanta Braves)
Kike Hernandez (Boston Red Sox)
Nelson Velazquez (Chicago Cubs)
Henry Ramos (Cincinnati Reds)

Coaching Staff
Manager – Yadier Molina 
Bench Coach – Alex Cintron 
Hitting Coach – Victor Rodriguez 
Assistant Hitting Coach – Juan Gonzalez 
Pitching Coach – Ricky Bones 
First Base Coach – Jose Molina 
Third Base Coach – Luis Rivera 
Bullpen Coach – Jose Rosado

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Leif Skodnick