The World Baseball Classic was perhaps a bit more polarizing than it needed to be this year but it brought countries and clubhouses together.
The Red Sox were represented by 11 different players in the WBC, including superstar third baseman Rafael Devers of the Dominican Republic and champion Masataka Yoshida of Japan.
While Boston was missing those 11 players for key parts of spring training, the Sox were able to come together thanks to the WBC.
Red Sox Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom joined WEEI’s Rob Bradford on the Audacy Original Podcast “Baseball Isn’t Boring” and explained how the World Baseball Classic brought the team together.
“Look, anybody who sits here in a position like mine and tells you they’re not gritting their teeth at least a little bit seeing your guys compete at that level of intensity in March probably is just lying to you,” Bloom said (9:34 in player above). “We’re fortunate, obviously, we got everybody through it who went unscathed, but in our camp, the WBC was celebrated.”
The Red Sox were one of the lucky ones while the Mets lost closer Edwin Diaz to a season-ending knee injury and the Astros will be without second baseman Jose Altuve for several weeks due to a broken thumb, among other injuries.
Nevertheless, the WBC was largely a success and that was seen in the Red Sox clubhouse.
“When guys were gone we followed them, we cheered them on. When they came back they got the hero’s welcome,” Bloom continued. “It just added to the atmosphere and I think in a lot of ways even though guys were in and out I think the fact that this was going on and you could see our group kind of rooting for each other – unless they were direct competition which happens sometimes in the WBC. I think, honestly, even though from a baseball standpoint we didn’t have our whole group together until near the end, just from a team bonding standpoint it became part of how this group came together.”
Boston is looking to build a strong foundation after its 78-win campaign last season. The WBC gave the Red Sox a chance to bond off the field, but could the lack of consistency hurt them early on?
“It obviously wasn’t until really the last week that we had some kind of consistency with the lineup, and that’s a part of it,” Bloom said. “Look, am I going to sit here and tell you we won’t feel that at all going into the season? We might, but I give our staff a lot of credit, I give our players a lot of credit just working through it as well as possible.”
The Red Sox open their season with a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park. First pitch on Opening Day is set for 2:10 p.m. on Thursday afternoon.