03/18/2013 9:13 PM ET
Facing Dominican team has big league feel
By Alyson Footer / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Kingdom of the Netherlands infielder Curt Smith hasn't reached the big leagues yet as a farmhand in the Twins organization, but he doesn't need Major League experience to appreciate the atmosphere that surrounds him at the World Baseball Classic.
As far as he's concerned, his club's matchup against the Dominican Republic on Monday night carries a certain Major League prestige.
"It's like playing a big league game," he said. "The Dominican team is straight-up big league players, so it is. But I'm not going to let that get to me. I'm just going to play my own game, and with the help of my teammates, hopefully come out with a victory."
Meulens receiving praise for managerial duties
SAN FRANCISCO -- Major League coaches are of great value to their teams, but for the most part, they're out of the public eye.
They go about their business, do their jobs, chat with reporters when approached, but as far as speaking on behalf of the team and representing the club from a coaching standpoint, that duty belongs to the manager.
In that respect, Hensley Meulens has managed to fly relatively under the radar as the hitting coach of the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants. His public status has changed in the last couple of weeks, however, due to the fact that he's managing a World Baseball Classic team that has played well enough to merit a spot in the Championship Round.
The further Team Kingdom of the Netherlands advances in the tournament, the more attention it receives. This has put the engaging and easy-going Meulens in the media spotlight, and people who were previously unfamiliar with the him are quickly learning why the 45-year-old Curacao native is considered to be a good shot for a Major League managerial gig someday.
Meulens isn't thinking that far ahead, but he did acknowledge this World Baseball Classic experience has been "amazing."
"I played 17 years myself, but I've been coaching now for 10, 11 years," he said. "But having to run a team, it's quite different. I've enjoyed it a lot. If in the future somebody wants to give me a chance, I'll definitely give it a shot. But as of right now, I'm still hitting coach for the Giants. That's what I know how to do best."
It's a small sample size time-wise, but Meulens' current Dutch players seem to enjoy playing for him.
"It's just the confidence that he gives us," Wladimir Balentien said. "He's a manager, he's a player, he knows how this goes, so he knows how to treat his players. And I think that's the biggest thing for us, because if you have a manager that treats you the way that you're supposed to be treated because he played the game, so that gives us a lot of confidence."
Jansen celebrates birth of first child
SAN FRANCISCO -- Kenley Jansen was temporarily sidetracked from his World Baseball Classic routine a couple of days ago but for good reason: he became a father for the first time.
Jansen was in San Francisco with his Dutch teammates but received a call Saturday morning that the birth of his first child was pending. He flew to Los Angeles and made it in time to see the delivery of his daughter, Natalia.
"It's awesome," said Jansen, a reliever with the Dodgers. "Great feeling."
Did you know?
On July 13, 2012, Hensley Meulens received royal decoration of the Kingdom of the Netherlands from Consul General Bart van Bolhuis. Meulens was conferred status of Ridder in de Orde van Oranje-Nassau. (In layman's terms, he was honored with knighthood status.)
"It's a very big tournament, but the game is going to be the same. We got to play the same game. So all we got to do is no pressure, just go out there, relax, have fun. And I think when you have fun and play as a brother, like we have been playing all the tournaments so far, I think that it will be a lot of success in this game for us."
-- Wladimir Balentien, on the matchup with the Dominican Republic