The World Baseball Classic took Luis Robert Jr. from Taichung, Taiwan, to Tokyo and finally to Miami with Team Cuba.
The Chicago White Sox center fielder called it “a beautiful experience.”
“It was all that I imagined,” Robert said through an interpreter Wednesday at Camelback Ranch. “It was very special to represent my country.”
Robert slashed .259/.286/.296 with one double and four RBIs in six games, going 7-for-27.
“Luis is Luis, he’s a dynamic talent,” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said. “So just to watch him move around out there in center field is really special for me to see.”
Grifol noted similarities between Robert and former Kansas City Royals and Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Lorenzo Cain.
“The way they move out there in center field is very similar, which is special,” Grifol said. “He’ll bring a little bit of everything to us.”
Robert’s WBC experience included a little bit of everything, from Cuba beginning the event with two losses in pool play to the team getting hot and reaching the semifinals.
His favorite memory came March 15, when Cuba beat Australia 4-3 in a quarterfinal. Robert had one RBI and scored a run in the victory.
“When we beat Australia, we were able to pass through (to) the semifinals for the first time since 2006 for Cuba,” Robert said. “It was a very special moment.”
Robert saw similarities in the tournament to his playoff opportunity in front of fans when the Sox faced the Houston Astros in 2021.
“It was electric,” Robert said.
The WBC helped Robert prepare for the regular season in a unique way.
“When you’re playing there, every single game matters,” he said. “You have all the adrenaline and pressure to win because (it’s) out and (you) go back home. When you are here (for Cactus League games), you’re just getting ready for the season, trying to make adjustments.
“There, you have no time. I was able to play night games, nine innings every game. That is something you don’t do here. The intensity and urgency of the games, yes, definitely that helped me. That helped everybody who participated in the tournament compared to what you usually do here.
“It just felt different because you are representing your country and you know that your whole country is watching and supporting you. It was the first time in six years we had this event. The weight you have on your shoulders is bigger because it’s your country.”
Robert enjoyed playing against Sox teammate Tim Anderson and Team USA in a semifinal, calling it a “friendly rivalry.” Cuba exited the tournament with a 14-2 loss.
Robert was thankful he got to go through it all with Sox third baseman Yoán Moncada.
“Sharing the experience with him was one of the best things about the experience,” Robert said. “It was a big step that we did, just committing to play for our country. And we enjoyed it. I felt very good having him there with me.”
With the season around the corner, Robert’s attention returns to camp.
“I’m going to just stick to my routine,” he said. “That’s everything I was doing before I went to the (WBC). Try to stay healthy, try to make my body stronger.
“Hopefully I’m going to have a healthy season and won’t have any trouble. Thus far I feel good and don’t feel I have to change anything.”