WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Puerto Rico lost a heartthrob to Mexico in the quarterfinals of the World Baseball Classic late Friday night, snapping a two-run lead late, falling 5-4. However, some 16 hours after catching all nine innings in the game in which his team was eliminated, Martin Maldonado was already back at Astros camp on Saturday.
The veteran catcher’s entrance into the clubhouse was a hit with his teammates as he went around shaking hands and hugging each of them. Maldonado was there mainly to see his boys after being gone for almost two weeks. As a veteran, Maldonado probably wasn’t expected to return so quickly—the five Astros who played for the Dominican Republic took a day off before returning to camp—but Dusty Baker wasn’t surprised to see him.
“Not really, that’s Maldy,” said the Astros manager. “He Came to see the boys, and we wanted to see him too.”
A bigger surprise was the arrival of starting pitcher José Urquidy, who made the 70-mile trip from Miami to work at the Astros spring training facility despite his Mexican team still playing in the WBC. Urquidy pitched just once in the tournament, giving up two runs in four innings of Wednesday’s 10-3 win over Canada. Mexico plays Japan in the WBC semifinals on Monday night in Miami.
Maldonado had a lot of work in the tournament. He played in four of Puerto Rico’s five games, including catching all nine innings in the last two games. At the plate, he went 4-of-12 (.333) with a couple of walks.
Baker said he won’t bring Maldonado back in a spring game until Tuesday.
There are still five Astros competing in the WBC: right fielder Kyle Tucker and closer Ryan Pressly (United States), second baseman Jose Altuve and starting pitchers Luis Garcia (Venezuela) and Urquidy. The United States and Venezuela face off in an elimination game on Saturday night, so two more players will soon be back on the court.