The Colorado Rockies have started spring training and third baseman Nolan Arenado hopes to help propel his team to a postseason berth, but first he hopes to lead the U.S. to the title in the World Baseball Classic.
This offseason Arenado visited Cuba to return to his roots, but is ready now to prepare for another season. He thought about playing in the upcoming World Baseball Classic for Puerto Rico before deciding to play for Team USA.
Arenado had one of his best years of his career last season. He led baseball in RBIs with 133 and tied for the lead in the National League in home runs with 41. His numbers helped him finish fifth in the balloting for NL MVP.
Arenado is confident he will repeat those numbers this season if he can remain healthy throughout the season. Last season the third baseman played in 160 games for the Rockies.
Regardless of how well Arenado hits the ball, a certain percentage of fans will think of him as a fielder first, hitter second. He likes that as he knows how important defensive skill at the hot corner is for the success of a team.
During the offseason, Arenado avoided arbitration by signing a two-year deal for $29.5 million. The soon to be 26-year old is confident he can live up to the healthy pay increase he received with his new deal.
This season Colorado enters spring training with more power in their lineup with Ian Desmond and an elite closer in Greg Holland. Some have given the Rockies a dark horse label to make the postseason for the NL.
He visited Cuba with parents Fernando and Millie during the winter. His father is of Cuban descent while his mother has Puerto Rican heritage. He called the people of Cuba, beautiful, loving and amazing.
Though the slugger has Cuban lineage, Arenado said Cuba would not allow him to play on their World Baseball Classic team. He was then torn between the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
He decided he would rather play for the U.S. team because he did not want to cost a Puerto Rican-born player a spot on their team, if he played for them, since he was raised in California.
Arenado and his U.S. teammates start their pool round March 10 in Miami against Columbia. He said the tournament means a great deal to him and will do anything possible to help the club win.