While a few Chicago Cubs players have balled out at the World Baseball Classic, most notably Javier Baez, Hector Rondon made his debut for Venezuela and was crushed by USA bats.
No one is going to feel sorry for Rondon, who is a World Series champion, but it’s been relatively rough for him individually during the previous calendar year. He went from being the underrated, but efficient closer in Joe Maddon’s bullpen, to the set up man after the Aroldis Champan trade and then he went on the disabled list in August and simply wasn’t good when he returned in the postseason. Maddon had no confidence in Rondon late in close games and now the Cubs reliever is giving up moonshots in the WBC.
Venezuela was leading 2-1 over the United States on Wednesday night, when Rondon came in to start the eighth inning. Adam Jones was the first batter Rondon faced and the outfielder wasted no time in tattooing a baseball 400 feet for a game-tying home run.
Christian Yelich singles after that and with one out, Eric Hosmer launched a two-run shot, giving the USA a 4-2 lead.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) March 16, 2017
The inning was a disaster already, but Rondon gave up two more hits and then walked a man to load the bases with two outs before he was pulled.
Normally it wouldn’t be a big deal seeing one of your relievers get tagged during a game in the middle of March. However, the WBC isn’t just another spring training game. These guys, especially the pitchers, aren’t there to just work on certain pitches and not necessarily care about the results. So, hopefully Rondon’s confidence hasn’t taken a hit because the most unpredictable aspect in a baseball team from a year-to-year basis is the bullpen. The Cubs have the assets to make a move if they have to, like we saw last season, but you certainly wish Rondon can get his groove back.