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SAN DIEGO—Eddie Rosario is using the World Baseball Classic as more than just a vehicle to show pride for his native Puerto Rico.
The Twins outfielder is using the WBC as his breakout on a big stage.
Rosario, 25, has been one of the brightest stars of the WBC so far, hitting .545 (6-for-11) with two doubles, a triple and three RBIs to help Puerto Rico start 4-0. He also unleashed a perfect one-hopper to the plate to nail Jean Segura tagging up from third in Tuesday’s win over the Dominican Republic, one of the most memorable plays of the tournament so far.
“I feel like this is a good opportunity for me for Minnesota to see me,” Rosario said. “I’m ready to play baseball in the major leagues (every day).”
Rosario was a fourth-round draft pick of the Twins in the 2010 draft and was a four-time Top 10 prospect in the organization, but his big league career so far has been uneven.
He finished sixth in American League Rookie of the Year voting in 2015, but played just 92 games last season as he struggled to a .295 on-base percentage and .716 OPS and spent six weeks in Triple-A after being demoted.
Altogether, there’s been some good (.269 AVG, 65 XBH) and some bad (.292 OBP, 25.2 percent strikeout rate) in his short career. Now, Rosario is showing he may be taking the next step to where the good consistently overshadows the bad.
“This is everything,” Rosario said. “It’s everything for me.”
HOMECOMING FOR JONES
Playing the second round at Petco Park is particularly meaningful for Team USA center fielder Adam Jones.
Jones, 31, grew up in San Diego and was drafted in the supplemental first round in 2003 out of Morse High, roughly eight miles east of Petco Park.
“It’s good to be back here in San Diego,” Jones said, smiling. “I haven’t been back here in March since ’03, the year I graduated high school, so it’s kind of eerie being back here at this time.”
Jones has hit well in his hometown historically, hitting .483/.516/.793 with three homers and seven RBIs in seven career games at Petco Park.
Normally playing in his hometown means a load of ticket requests from friends and family, but WBC ticket allotment rules relieved Jones of that burden this time.
“We only got an allotment of four tickets so I did something smart, what my mom always tells me to do, and put it on Facebook,” Jones said. “Copy and pasted the link, everything, told people ‘This is where you get your tickets. Put your credit card down.’ This is where it’s at. It’s cut and dry. It’s not the season. It’s a completely different format.”
CHANGE OF SCENERY
Venezuela is going from pitching in one type of stadium to the opposite as they move from Round One to Round Two.
Pool D play in Jalisco, Mexico, was defined by offense, with balls flying out of a stadium sitting roughly 5,000-plus feet above sea level, approximately matching Coors Field.
Now the scene shifts to Petco Park, one of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks in Major League Baseball with a heavy marine layer notorious for killing fly balls.
“Obviously, the elements in Jalisco were very different,” Venezuela closer Francisco Rodriguez said. “The pitchers were not breaking the ball the way they were hoping to. We’re obviously here at Petco Park, and you tend to pitch a little better, perhaps.”
The change in the run-scoring environment was evident in Game One. Puerto Rico scored 29 runs in three games of pool play in Jalisco and the Dominican Republic scored 26 runs in three games in Miami.
The final score of their matchup at Petco Park on Tuesday was 3-1.