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Two Angels representatives in WBC are back and a bit surprised

Minor league shortstop Hainley Statia was part of Netherlands team that stunned the Dominican Republic, whose first base coach is Alfredo Griffin.

March 13, 2009|Mike DiGiovanna

TEMPE, ARIZ. — Minor league shortstop Hainley Statia and first-base coach Alfredo Griffin both returned to Angels camp Thursday, Statia a little bummed and Griffin a little stunned.

Statia was a member of the Netherlands team that upset the Dominican Republic -- twice -- in the World Baseball Classic to advance to the second round, but a minor hamstring injury knocked the slick-fielding defender out of the tournament.

Griffin was the first base coach for a Dominican team that featured stars such as Hanley Ramirez, David Ortiz and Jose Reyes but was bounced from the WBC by a Netherlands team consisting of Sidney Ponson, Eugene Kingsale and a bunch of minor leaguers.

"We didn't know their team," Griffin said. "We thought we were going to show up and win. That wasn't the case. You have to play baseball."

Advancing to the second round of the WBC probably won't knock soccer off the front page of sports sections in the Netherlands, but it was huge news in Statia's native Curacao, where most of the Netherlands players are from.

"I hear from people back home every day," said Statia, who will probably open the season at double-A Arkansas. "Fans have chartered a couple of planes to go to Miami for the next round."

Statia, who started the first two WBC games, wishes he could join them, but he was injured chasing a popup and was knocked out in the seventh inning of the second game, a 3-1 loss to Puerto Rico.

"It's going to be very tough, because I want to be there with the guys," said Statia, who went 0 for 4 in the WBC. "But the Angels are my team. I need to get healthy so I can have a big year."

The Netherlands stunned the Dominican Republic, 3-2, and bounced back from the Puerto Rico loss to beat the Dominicans, 2-1, in 11 innings in a pool-play elimination game at San Juan.

"No one expected this," Statia said. "Even some of the Dominican players told us after we beat them in the first game that we better beat Puerto Rico to qualify, or they're going to whip our . . . And they didn't."

Going solo

After giving up a pair of singles and a three-run home run to Ian Stewart to open the game, John Lackey gave up only one hit in four innings of the Angels' 6-4 exhibition loss to the Colorado Rockies on Thursday.

Lackey went 12-5 with a 3.75 earned run average but gave up 26 home runs last season, fifth-most in the American League. If 17 of the homers hadn't come with the bases empty, Lackey might be more concerned about the long balls.

"I'm throwing more fastballs, so there's going to be more contact -- leave one up, it's going to get hit," Lackey said. "But most of them were solo shots. It would be a little different if people were on base."

Going green

Baseball is investigating more than 40 cases involving Dominican players suspected of lying about their age, and Lou Melendez, MLB's vice president of international affairs, said players found lying about their age could face a cancellation or temporary revocation of their visas.

But the Angels don't expect slugger Vladimir Guerrero, who recently acknowledged being 34 and not 33, as listed in the media guide, to be affected.

Tim Mead, the team's vice president of communications, said Guerrero has a "green card," giving him lawful permanent residence in the U.S.

Short hops

Howie Kendrick hit doubles to left-center in his first two at-bats Thursday. . . . Outfielder Reggie Willits was scratched because of a sinus infection. . . . Infielder Maicer Izturis has been sidelined for a few days because of back stiffness but is expected to play in a game by this weekend. . . . Closer Brian Fuentes, sidelined by back stiffness, threw a full bullpen workout Wednesday and will return to game action soon. . . . Guerrero, recovering from knee surgery, ran the bases in drills for the first time this spring.


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