BRADENTON, Fla. -- Wandy Rodriguez had a big hand in putting the Dominican Republic into the World Baseball Classic final.
However, he will have the same view of Tuesday night's title game against Puerto Rico as most of the rest of us: On television, via MLB Network.
The left-hander was back in the Pirates' Spring Training clubhouse on Monday, with a big smile on his lips and special memories in his heart. Rodriguez was in no danger of leaving his heart in San Francisco, because he never got it there.
It was not an easy decision to shed the Dominican uniform. However, Rodriguez, ineligible per Classic rules to pitch again after throwing six innings and 74 pitches on Saturday in a 2-0 win over Puerto Rico, could not justify a cross-country flight just to be an observer.
"I had to come back here and start getting ready for the season," said Rodriguez.
He called his first Classic experience, "Wonderful. It was competition on just a really different level. I can't even put into words what it was like."
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog Change for a Nickel. He can also be found on Twitter @Tom_Singer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.