MIAMI -- Cardinals All-Star catcher Yadier Molina certainly is a talent deserving of some special treatment in the World Baseball Classic.
Throughout the tournament, Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez has figured out ways to best use Molina, without running him out there for too many games in a row.
Catchers are treated differently. Rodriguez pointed out that Molina got himself in game shape early by playing some winter ball for a few weeks in Puerto Rico.
"So he prepared himself for that," the manager said.
In Round 1, Molina caught a couple of games in a row to build up. The St. Louis star also was told he didn't have to show up to Thursday's workout.
"We have to be very careful," Rodriguez said. "As a manager, if I see something that I don't like, if he's a little bit tired, or his arm is sore of something, I will pull him out of the game."
Classic featuring plenty of in-game celebrating
MIAMI -- A different energy level has overtaken the World Baseball Classic, where players are jumping around on the field like kids winning the Little League World Series.
National pride has raised emotions, and the participants are completely caught up in it. Players on the Dominican Republic sprung out of the dugout in the ninth inning on Erick Aybar's go-ahead, pinch-hit RBI single in a 3-1 win over Team USA on Thursday night.
The excessive celebration has blurred the lines of when you might be showing up your opponent.
"To me, there's nothing wrong with emotion, don't get me wrong," U.S. manager Joe Torre said. "I love the passion."
Torre spent time in the Dominican Republic in January, and he understands the national passion the country has for baseball.
"Sometimes when you get on the field and the ball is still in play, then you hold your breath because then it becomes a scoring issue on what happens," Torre said.
The excessive celebrating rubbed some Team USA players the wrong way.
"That's what I heard," U.S. second baseman Brandon Phillips said. "If you're asking me, a win's a win. If you win the game, you have the right to do whatever it is."
For the most part, the celebrating is seen as good fun in an international tournament, where national pride is on the line each game.
Could similar intensity carryover to the MLB regular season?
"The things that they did, you would never ever see in the regular season," Phillips said. "If that were so, things would be crazy."
Emotions sometimes come on an individual basis.
Phillips added: "I'm into that swag stuff."
Puerto Rico manager Edwin Rodriguez, who formerly managed in the big leagues with the Marlins, says players have to be careful not to celebrate to the point they cause injuries.
"I think that's what we have to be careful of sometimes as a manager," Rodriguez said.
The time of the year is still Spring Training. These intensely played games are occurring when players are typically getting ready to go for April.
"We have to make sure that we take care of those players, because they try to take the game way too much over what they prefer to do at this time," Rodriguez said. "[Thursday] was a good example of what the WBC is all about."
Torre weighs in on Wright's injured intercostal
MIAMI -- Team USA losing the services of David Wright has brought attention to the greatest fear of the World Baseball Classic -- injuries.
Wright returned to New York on Friday, where he was diagnosed with a mild strained right intercostal.
U.S. manager Joe Torre was asked about why so many players have rib/back setbacks in Spring Training.
"Years ago, Whitey Herzog said they should eat steak and eat fried foods and all that stuff," Torre said. "These guys take too good a care of themselves."
In the case of Wright, Torre added that the Mets' All-Star third baseman has an all-out style of play.
"David is so acrobatic," Torre said. "Sometimes your body says slow down, or not today.
"But these guys work out. When I started playing in the big leagues, they didn't start this whole weight stuff until like the middle '70s."
Young Marlins closer Cishek embraces World stage
MIAMI -- The international stage certainly is giving Marlins closer Steve Cishek plenty of recognition.
Cishek has already made a couple of impressive showings in the World Baseball Classic, including retiring all four batters he faced in the late innings of Team USA's 3-1 loss to the Dominican Republic on Thursday night.
Cishek entered in the seventh inning of a tie game with runners on first and second and two outs. He was able to retire Miguel Tejada on a slow roller back to the mound.
And in the eighth inning, Cishek was dominant, striking out Robinson Cano and getting Edwin Encarnacion on a groundout to shortstop. The inning ended when Cishek struck out Hanley Ramirez, his former Marlins' teammate, on three pitches.
"I didn't know a whole lot about him," U.S. manager Joe Torre said. "The people that have seen him basically talked him up because of his ability. But I think we've seen a pretty good taste of it, and a pretty good example of his passion, too. He's been pumped up after he's done the job. He's special. There is no question."
A rangy right-hander with a decisive sidearm delivery, Cishek is quiet and humble by nature. In the tournament, he's showed some intensity on the mound.
After catching Ramirez looking on a slider, he glared in the direction of home plate. Initially, it appeared like he was staring at his ex-teammate. Cishek clarified that he was more relieved, and happened to be looking toward the plate.
"Someone else said that too," Cishek said when asked about the glance. "It was more a sigh of relief. When I released it, I was like, 'Oh no, I hung a slider.' He ended up looking at it. It was more of a blow of relief. I was just fired up that he didn't swing at it, basically."
The beauty of the Classic is it is giving international exposure to players who don't always get the attention. Cishek is one of them. He's soaking in the energy and enthusiasm of the games. Against the Dominican Republic, it was an electric atmosphere.
"It was crazy," Cishek said. "I don't know what to compare it to. The fans were just yelling non-stop the whole game. When you get out there, it's like a whole different level, people just screaming all the time. It was just unbelievable. It gets your blood flowing. You just can't wait to get out there."