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WBC players have put Dodgers-Giants rivalry aside — for now

Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Cruz have played with Sergio Romo on Mexico's team instead of against him as they usually do. All three made their mark in the game against the U.S.

March 09, 2013|By Mike Hiserman

PHOENIX — Sergio Romo just can't get away from them. At home, in his professional career, here at the World Baseball Classic.

He is surrounded by Dodgers.

Long before he became a closer for the San Francisco Giants, and a World Series hero and champion, Romo was the son of a die-hard Dodgers fan — and, like many of his friends and neighbors in Brawley, Calif., became such a fan himself.

"My dad is my hero, and we all grew up Dodgers fans," he said Saturday. "Especially in Brawley; it's a big Dodgers town. But for me it's rather ironic. I get drafted by the Giants and get to play in the orange and black."

Or, this week, in the green and red of Mexico — a team that also has a strong tint of blue.

Mexico's team captain and cleanup hitter is Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez, and the third baseman and three-hole hitter is Dodger Luis Cruz.

"Even our media lady here, Yvonne [Carrasco], she works for the Dodgers. They're everywhere," Romo said before Mexico played Canada. He was laughing, but then he turned more serious.

"This isn't about what colors we wear during the season," he said. "This right now is pulling on the same rope for the same cause and trying to represent the Mexican people as well as we can."

Romo and Mexico rode a roller coaster in the WBC. Two fly balls misplayed in left field on Thursday allowed Italy to rally in the ninth inning off Romo and upset Mexico in the opener for both teams. Then Mexico and Romo enjoyed a big highlight Friday night when it defeated the United States, 5-2.

But Saturday's 10-3 loss to Canada provided what was likely a final dip. With a 1-2 record in pool play, it is unlikely Mexico will advance to the second round.

Romo and his teammates will no doubt remember the win over the U.S. for a while though. Playing before a boisterous and largely pro-Mexico Chase Field crowd of 44,256 — the largest so far for any WBC game this year — Romo got the save, retiring the side in the ninth inning on 13 pitches. Gonzalez and Cruz combined to drive in all of Mexico's runs.

Romo, as usual, was demonstratively joyful after the last out. Whether it's against a North American rival or one from the National League West, the kid from the little desert town enjoys people counting on him.

"I think it's very fitting that I do have a bunch of Dodgers around me and I get to play alongside them and they get to understand a little bit more about me and how I play and my style," Romo said. "During the season is a whole different animal. That rivalry between us and the Dodgers, that goes well beyond anything I could ever fathom. Just to be a part of all that, and now just to be able to play alongside of them, I'm real proud to be able to do that."

mike.hiserman@latimes.com

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