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Morning Juice: K-Rod is king of the WBC! (The Cubans win, too)

Big League Stew

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Konichiwa, annyong, bienvenidos and 'sup? This and many weekday mornings throughout the rest of March, let's rise and shine together with the latest news from spring training and the World Baseball Classic, where negotiations and mediation go out the window and countries play out their disagreements on the diamond.

This morning, Venezuela's Francisco Rodriguez feels the win on his face after notching four outs— sending Puerto Rico against the United States in an elimination game today — and Cuba's baseball team avoids repatriation for another day.

Game of the Day: Venezuela 2, Puerto Rico 0

As Yahoo! Sports' Jeff Passan points out, this is what the WBC is supposed to be all about. A competitive game, a lively bilingual crowd (at moribund Dolphin Stadium in Miami, no less), plus excited players (note K-Rod doing his best Leo DiCaprio). We even had a North American angle — a botched TV replay that umps got right anyway (how American is that?). Then there was the continued ruckus for Magglio Ordonez, that savvy political ally of embattled Venezuelan presidente Hugo Chavez. Term limits, schmerm limits!

Always dependable Carlos Guillen had a big RBI single against Ian Snell (he's Puerto Rican? Who knew?) and Ramon Hernandez added a solo home run that umps ruled good after a 10-minute delay to check TV replays (that apparently were broken). God, I love this game. Venezuela manager Luis Sojo, who faced a national revolt after his team started the tournament poorly, leads his squad to Los Angeles. P.R., still alive, faces the U.S. in an elimination game today — if the Americans haven't vacated already.

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Jerry, my Cubans!: Frederich Cepeda continued to swing a hot bat, driving in four runs and earning a hug from Cuba's trainer, Dr. Antonio Castro (son of The Man, himself) in a 7-4 victory in an elimination game against Mexico. Mexico-Cuba-WBC Fever clearly hasn't made it to San Diego, as only 9,329 fans showed at 42,000-seat Petco Park. (Maybe the "Park Pass" selection is the way to go if you're buying seats to the next game.)

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Feelin' Rundown (other baseball blurbs):

Ryan Braun's ribcage/back thingy won't go away

Braden Looper (a pro jock) hit in the head with a screamer, barely notices

• Nats' Jordan Zimmermann has 16 Ks in 12 1/3 scoreless Grapefruit IP

Jim Thome is old and sometimes his back takes a while to start

Matt Lindstrom stares too long at MRI, sees rotator cuff strain

• The Phillie Phanatic ascends to nirvana, AKA, a Simpsons episode

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Words of Mouth

"I think that the main objective here is the team." — Cepeda

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