3/16/2013 7:01 P.M. ET
DR can get payback against Dutch in semifinals
By Joe Frisaro / MLB.com
MIAMI -- Payback isn't foremost on the minds of the Dominican Republic when it arrives in San Francisco. Winning the World Baseball Classic title is.
It just so happens that the team standing in the way of the Dominican Republic is the Kingdom of Netherlands. The two countries meet on Monday at 9 p.m. ET in the second World Baseball Classic semifinal at AT&T Park (watch on MLB Network and ESPN Deportes).
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No one from the Dominican has forgotten what occurred in 2009, when a scrappy, underdog Netherlands squad pulled off a monumental upset, beating the Dominican Republic twice and eliminating it in the first round of the Classic.
"I wouldn't call it a debt," Dominican All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano said. "You have to forget what happened in the past."
The determination to bring the Classic championship trophy to the Caribbean is clearly the mission. Having Cano in the middle of the lineup certainly enhances the country's chances.
The Dominican Republic earned a day off by beating Puerto Rico, 2-0, on Saturday at Marlins Park. Puerto Rico will face Japan on Sunday in San Francisco at 9 p.m.
Cano was named the MVP of Round 2, just as he was in the first round.
"The MVP is an individual thing," Cano said. "First of all, Puerto Rico didn't know we had the most valuable players. Once we got to the second round, I wanted to go to the third round. You have to take it game by game. It wasn't only because of me, but also because of our players."
Compared to four years ago, the Dominican Republic is a more determined and driven club than the team that faced the Netherlands in '09.
But the Netherlands isn't a flash in the pan, either. The squad is filled with some exceptional young talent. It just doesn't match the Dominican Republic in terms of star power. Dominican manager Tony Pena can run out Cano, Jose Reyes, Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Santana and Edwin Encarnacion.
Pena's message is what happened before doesn't matter in the win-or-go-home semifinals.
"What's in the past is in the past," Pena said. "We are not thinking about the past, we're thinking about the present."
In Miami, Pena's team clearly played as if it was on a mission. It won all three of its games at Marlins Park, and improved to 6-0 overall.
For the semifinals, Padres right-hander Edinson Volquez will start. The challenge for big league pitchers in the Classic is to be built up to throw meaningful innings weeks before Opening Day.
"I think we did a pretty good job before we got to Spring Training to try to get ready for the WBC," Volquez said. "I think most of the guys over here on our team are ready to play, especially me. I threw a lot of bullpens before I got here."
The Netherlands may not have the depth of proven Major Leaguers as the Dominican Republic, but it has its share of talent. For the semifinals, it has added Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar to a lineup that already had Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons.
And if the Netherlands has a lead in the ninth, a proven big leaguer will be taking the ball. Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen has been added to the roster.
"This is going to be my first time playing for them," Profar said. "It's a great honor for me. I'm very happy to be here. You can see right away why they're winning. They have great guys, great manager, great coaches. So I'm proud."
The Netherlands' pitching staff is coached by Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven.
"We have good players," manager Hensley Meulens said. "It was just a matter of, when we played in these tournaments, you play your best game to show people that the way Major League Baseball has expanded themselves all over the world is working. It's given countries an opportunity to show that they can play with any country. So it will be a very special thing for the Netherlands."