MIAMI – For our first review of Randy Arosarina’s latest and perhaps greatest achievement, we consult the gold standard for World Baseball Classic burglaries, retired outfielder Adam Jones.
“That catch was amazing,” Jones said Friday night in a text message. “It’s all about attitude. And what a formidable one in a big, unfamiliar arena. Save a run from scoring.”
He saved a scoring tiebreaker, with a runner on first and one in the eighth inning of the WBC Mexico–Puerto Rico Quarterfinals on Depot Park. Runner MJ Melendez was trying to steal. He rounded second base. Yes, he was going to score on Emmanuel Rivera’s walk to left centre.
But Arosarina—Mr. March, Mr. October, Mr. Mexico, take your pick—had other ideas. He raced from left field toward the wall in left center, jumped right in front of the fence and then…
Randy’s on the wall!
What a grab
📺: WBC on FS1 pic.twitter.com/EgYLlEBC8D
– FOX Sports: MLB (MLBONFOX) March 18, 2023
“That was better than any home run ever in the minor leagues,” he said. Arozarena told me in his Postgame interview on FS1With translations by Danny Sanchez. “That was better than a home run in the World Series. That catch was the best.”
In fact, Arozarena hit three home runs in the 2020 World Series and scored 10 post-season home runs, but forgive him for losing track. Mexico coach Benji Gill, in the frenzy of a 5-4 victory that sent his country to the WBC semi-finals for the first time, made an even bigger comparison.
Catch Randy Arosarina, Gil said, According to Venezuelan correspondent Efraín Zavares“It must be the most important play in the history of Mexican sports.”
Our friends south of the border could debate Gil’s statement, but there was no discussion about the importance of Arozarena’s catch to Team Mexico’s latest thrilling WBC victory, which included a comeback from a 4-0 halftime deficit and the team’s advance to showdown. with Japan on Monday.
Aruzharina, 28, is everything and everywhere at once. He nearly doubled Melendez, who lunged to the start, then celebrated with a catch by sticking out his tongue and spreading his arms wide.
Rivera, who smashed an 84-mph slider from Jake Sanchez after counting to 3-2 on a smash hit, reacted a little differently. Twice slamming his helmet to the ground with both hands, he slammed it back into the bunker and hit a padded railing for good measure.
The Puerto Rican team, who was trying to win for their injured brother, reliever Edwin Diaz, didn’t quite finish. Javier Baez hit a single to move Melendez to third with two outs, but Sanchez backed out Eddie Rosario. Puerto Rico then stormed back with two solo goals against Giovanni Gallegos in the ninth, but Enrique Hernandez took a third strike to end the game.
Arozarena said he’s been working on his defense and his stride when tracking fly balls. But Mexico’s second baseman, Luis Urreas, who covered second when Melendez attempted a steal, didn’t think Arosarina would block Rivera’s towering shot.
“No way,” Ureas said. “When I saw the contact, I was like, ‘It’s going to be hard.'” I thought it would be outside the yard. Then when I saw Randy fishing, I got excited.
I asked him, how did you do that? He used to say, I never give up. I thought this was gold, but I never gave up.”
Arozarena’s cowboy boots, his cross-arms celebration, his impassioned interactions with fans – it was all a surprise to Rodrigo Lopez, manager of Team Mexico. López said that when he initially spoke to Arosarina about playing for the team, the player seemed withdrawn and shy.
“He’s very quiet but has a lot of energy,” said Taijuan Walker, a player for Team Mexico. “Does not make sense.”
Former major league pitcher Jorge Campillo, who was part of the front office for Team Mexico, was included for Arrosarena. Campello knew the player and the person. He was the GM of the Tijuana Toros, one of two Mexican League teams that Arrozarena named his team after Flee from Cuba on a small boat She settled in Mexico in 2015.
The Cardinals signed Arozarena out of Mexico in August 2016. He reached the majors three years later. But at the time, the Cardinals sent him to the Rays in a six-player deal that brought them Matthew Liberatore, the Cardinals’ No. 5 according to the athleteKeith Low. The Liberatore, 23, debuted last season and produced a 5.97 ERA in 34 2/3 innings pitched.
In 2021, Arosarina contacted Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador through his Instagram account, asking for help in achieving his goal of representing Mexico in the WBC. He became a Mexican citizen this past April. The second of his three daughters, 4-year-old Lea, was born in Mexico.
He said, “Mexico took me in as a son.”
Arruzarena said Mexican fans send him messages and pictures, even superimposing his face on dollar bills. He takes great pleasure in playing for his adopted country. And he performs in the WBC with the same passion as any native Mexican on the team.
On Friday night, Arzarena went 1-for-3 walking two runs, scoring the tying game for Mexico in the seventh inning. For the tournament, he hits 8-for-17 with five doubles, a home run, five walks, seven runs scored and nine RBIs – an impressive .471/.625/.941 for a 1.566 OPS.
After the game, as the celebration continued on the field, Aruzzarena exchanged greetings with the fans, taking selfies, and giving them small kisses. It couldn’t be seen more at home.
Walker, a pitcher for the Mets, joked that if he managed a team, he would sign Arozarena, rest him all year and then play him in the postseason. Players, managers, CEOs – they all marvel at Arozarena’s ability to shine in the most critical of moments. As Rays president of baseball operations Eric Neander said, “Few are better than when he was locked in the big stage.”
WBC is a big stage. So is the postseason. In 120 games in the playoffs—no small sample—Arozarena batted 0.333/.417/.705 for 1.121 OPS. In 2020, when he was just a junior, he not only set the record for most home runs in the postseason, but also the most goals scored with 27.
And now, playing in the first WBC, he has The Catch.
It wasn’t quite the same as Jones’ clinch in the 2017 tournament, but fans will no doubt associate the two, comparing their difficulty scores.
Jones’ catch, like Arosarina’s, came in the quarterfinals. Team USA was leading the Dominican Republic by a score of 4-2, when Jones’ former Orioles teammate Manny Machado lead off the seventh with a shot to right center.
Jones took off from midfield and extended his arm over the fence as his back hit the wall. Arozarena didn’t hit a wall the same way, or at all, really. He descended the deepest part of the warning path, then reached for the fence with both arms to soften the impact.
More difficult hunting? Maybe Jones, because he hit a wall and took a homer. Most important, considering the score was tied and the play happened one turn later? Maybe in Arozarena.
Jones, a fan of the game, didn’t quite have a brain to compare one to the other.
“I stole from Homer,” Jones said, “he stole double the Reserve Bank of India.” “Different scenarios but the same outcome. Go out and the crowds go crazy.”
Jones welcomed the company to the WBC, saying, “I’m glad someone else has done something so memorable.” Oh, but Arosarina isn’t finished yet. Mexico will likely play two more matches in this WBC.
“I don’t know what I have for Japan, but I do know that I will do my best, give my 100 percent,” said Arosarina. “That’s what Randy Arosarina always brings.”
in the world championship. In the world of classic baseball. Where the big games are played.
(Top photo: Sam Navarro/USA Today)