By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Jose Miranda will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico due to shoulder discomfort that flared up with Major League Baseball’s Minnesota Twins during spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli announced Miranda had inflammation in his shoulder. The Minnesota Twins were looking at Miranda to be a utility player and to take at-bats as a designated hitter during camp.
With Miranda out, Yokohama DeNA Baystar’s Outfielder Neftali Soto was called up to play for Puerto Rico, filling in for Miranda during the World Baseball Classic.
Soto can have productive at-bats and take pitchers deep into counts, along with being a serviceable outfield if needed defensively. Last year for the Baystars, Soto played in 120 games with 412 plate appearances and 18 home runs, recording 99 hits and 50 RBI. Soto has been the home run leader twice in 2018 and 2019 in the Central League of Nippon Professional Baseball in Japan, and was the Central League’s RBI leader in 2019. Soto has been with Yokohama in their spring training camp, and will likely appear in two exhibition games for Puerto Rico, on March 8 against the Boston Red Sox at 1:05 p.m. EST in Fort Myers and March 9 against the Atlanta Braves in North Port at 1:05 p.m. EST.
Miranda made his debut last year with the Twins on May 2. During the 2022 season, Miranda batted .268 in 444 at-bats he recorded 119 hits, 15 home runs and 66 RBI’s playing in 125 games.
Puerto Rico manager and future Hall of Fame catcher Yadier Molina hopes to lead Puerto Rico deep in the World Baseball Classic this year. The island’s team has made it to the semifinals in back-to-back World Baseball Classics, losing to the United States in 2017 and the Dominican Republic in 2013.
Puerto Rico will start the World Baseball Classic in Pool D at Loan Depot Park in Miami against Nicaragua on March 11 at Noon EST on Fox Sports 2. Pool D will be scheduled from March 11-15 prior to the Quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic. All games will be streamed and televised on Fox Sports channels and Tubi.