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Juan Soto, World Baseball Classic

Juan Soto, Dominican Republic silence critics

  • Manuel Gómez - East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director Manuel Gómez, East Coast Contributor & Podcast Director
  • March 13, 2023

The Dominican Republic is 1-1 in the World Baseball Classic.

With the pressure mounting on the Dominican Republic, fans back home began to point fingers. Although David Ortiz hasn’t played in six years, some even blamed the Hall of Famer for the loss against Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.

Ortiz was accused of having some players out late Thursday night partying with música urbana artist El Alfa on the eve of the opener against Venezuela. Ortiz bemoaned those rumors, challenging fans to return to his Instagram live. “The only player there was Hanley (Ramirez),” he said. “And he doesn’t play anymore.”

Things were starting to unravel, and the D.R. needed to quiet the noise. Fortunately, Dominican manager Rodney Linares found a solution for the pre-tournament favorites.

Juan Soto adds a needed spark

Linares entrusted Juan Soto to provide an early spark. He slotted the two-time All-Star at lead-off, something Soto has done only twice in his five-year big league career.

His rationale? 

“Well, the changes in the lineup are based on the analytics,” Linares said. “We believe that with Juan (Soto) there was the best opportunity to score runs early.”

Soto singled in the first off Nicaragua’s starting pitcher JC Ramirez. Later in the inning, he scored on Rafael Devers’ RBI double.

The three-time Silver Slugger then drew a walk in his second plate appearance, scoring on an Eloy Jimenez single.

“People are going to speak whether you win or lose,” Jimenez said before the game. “We are all trying to do our best to win, and comments will always be there. I mean, that’s reality.”

In the sixth inning, Soto blasted a 401-foot home run to the upper deck of loanDepot park. He finished the match going 2-for-4 and scoring half of his team’s runs in Dominicana’s 6-1 win over Nicaragua.

If the Dominican plans to win their second World Baseball Classic, they will have to win out. They face Israel tomorrow and then a highly anticipated match against Puerto Rico on Wednesday

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