Normally baseball in March for Major League players is about getting loose for the upcoming grind of their 162 game season. However, for those who compete in the World Baseball Classic like Colorado Rockies 3rd baseman Nolan Arenado did this year, the intensity quickly makes it feel like postseason baseball in October.
Arenado joined The Jim Rome Show on Friday and talked about his experience of winning the World Baseball Classic as a member of Team USA, the intensity of it and the country pride shown by all teams competing.
“I’ve never been in the playoffs, so that was my playoff. It was just so unique, such a unique time,” Arenado said. “Wearing a USA jersey across your chest, seeing the flags everywhere around the stadium. It’s funny, because during the season, I don’t think they’re aloud to bring flags like that around, so it’s pretty cool to see a bunch of flags, Dominican, every type of flag out there. You know everyone kind of representing where they’re from and their team, it was cool to come out on top and be a part of it.”
The signature highlight of the World Baseball Classic was Arenado’s teammate Adam Jones’ game-saving catch in Team USA’s 6-3 elimination game win over the Dominican Republic. It was a highlight that still has the 3rd baseman is awe.
“I think that’s the best catch I’ve ever seen in person, by far. It was just a crazy time. It was just a great catch. Obviously [Manny] Machado crushed that ball, too bad he was playing in San Diego because that ball was probably a homer anywhere else. The ball was hammered. I thought it was out, right off the bat and just the way he jumped for it, it was a crazy jump and you just kind of robbed it, and just watching the fans’ reaction. I mean, it was just insane man,” Arenado said.
“It was insane to be at 3rd base watching that and then you know, [Robinson] Cano hit an awful bomb the next bat. If Machado’s goes out of the ballpark, we got a tie ball game, and it’s just a whole different vibe. It’s a different ball game.
Arenado said even though Cano hit that home run, Team USA still felt they had the momentum because of Adam Jones’s catch. “I’ve seen some great plays and stuff like that but that was by far the best play I’ve ever seen,” he said.
While only 25-years-old and a few seasons into his big league career, Arenado is receiving Hall of Fame worthy praise. The four-time Gold Glove winner said he was flattered, but needs to continue to work.
“I appreciate that, it’s pretty cool that people think like that, but I don’t think like that. I have so much stuff I have to get done, and so many things I have to get better at,” Arenado said. “Quality at bats, hitting better pitching, those things I think about.
“I just want to get consistent, just better at my all-around game. I want to be a better defender. I’ve always set goals. I don’t like to share my goals, but I will share this one is that I always, I don’t like to make double digit errors. That’s always been my goal to make less than double digit errors, and every year I’ve made double digit errors, so that’s something that makes me really upset.”
Arenado also said he wants to become a more consistent hitter. “As an offensive player, I just want to be consistent. So when those lows come, try to minimize those lows as quick as I can, which is hard, and I think that all starts with the mental game.”
The Colorado Rockies open their season Monday, April 3rd in Milwaukee against the Brewers.