Yankees’ Jonathan Loaisiga defends WBC: ‘a very good experience’

LAKELAND, Fla. — The first Yankee to return from the World Baseball Classic arrived this week and defended the tournament, which is under fire — especially in New York.

Debate raged over the significance of the event after Mets closest Edwin Diaz tore his right patellar tendon in a freak injury while celebrating a win in Puerto Rico on Wednesday night.

But Jonathan Loaisiga, who is back with the Yankees, does not hesitate to play with the Nicaraguan team.

Loaisiga called the WBC “a really good experience” in which he got to play for his native country with teammates he hadn’t seen in a long time, in front of tens of thousands of passionate fans.

“It is very important to understand that when you have this opportunity to represent your country and have the chance to participate in an event like this, I think all of us will benefit from it,” Loaisiga said per l through interpreter Marlon Abreu on Friday before the Yankees lost, 8-7, to the Tigers at Publix Field. “It’s a unique opportunity. … Being able to wear the uniform of your country means a lot.

Yankees reliever Jonathan Loaisiga pitched for Team Nicaragua during the World Baseball Classic.

Loaisiga kicked off two games for Nicaragua, who lost all four of their Group D games in Miami.

He says he has returned healthy and manager Aaron Boone expects Loaisiga to feature in a Grapefruit League game this weekend.

Diaz likely won’t pitch for the Mets this year after an injury suffered as he and his Puerto Rico teammates jumped in celebration after beating the Dominican Republic to advance to the WBC Quarterfinals.

“It’s very sad to see this happen, this injury to Diaz,” Loaisiga said. “That’s the problem with injuries – they can happen anytime, anytime. And unfortunately, sometimes you don’t expect it, and that’s bad.

The Yankees would not allow Luis Severino, who is rising in the rotation and who has suffered various injuries in recent years, to participate in the WBC.

Nestor Cortes initially signed up for Team USA, but a hamstring injury forced the southpaw to retire before the tournament started.

Kyle Higashioka plays with Team USA and Gleyber Torres is part of Team Venezuela.

Domingo German said he ‘definitely’ would have played for the Dominican Republic if asked. German was planning to join a cohort of Yankees for a trip to Miami to watch the Dominican Republic-Puerto Rico game that ended with Diaz being stopped and injured, but German’s son was sick and he pulled out .

“I think [the WBC is] great. Seeing the guys, the vibe, the opportunities that can arise,” German said, referring to Nicaragua’s Duque Hebbert, a pitcher whose impressive play in the tournament earned him a contract with the Tigers. “To see the atmosphere in these games, and you see a lot of different countries competing like Japan. It’s good to see.


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