Mexico WBC supervisor Benji Gil desires an opportunity to steer an MLB crew

Benji Gil didn’t maintain again. When requested concerning the World Baseball Classic’s resolution to maneuver up Mexico’s quarterfinal sport in opposition to Puerto Rico to Friday, the Mexico supervisor bluntly contended that it was unfair.

The plan had been for the winner of Pool C to play Saturday in opposition to Pool D’s runner-up. Mexico received Pool C. Puerto Rico completed second in Pool D. But there was some superb print: Team USA would play Saturday’s quarterfinal sport if it superior from Pool C it doesn’t matter what — whether or not the Americans completed in first or second. As a outcome, Team USA will face Venezuela, the Pool D winner, Saturday whereas Mexico had an off day after a cross-country flight snatched away.

“It’s a disadvantage,” Gil mentioned a number of hours earlier than first pitch Friday. “100%.”

The hindrance in the end didn’t matter. Mexico got here from behind to beat Puerto Rico 5-4 after falling behind 4-0 within the first inning for the nation’s greatest victory in worldwide baseball competitors. With it, Mexico superior to the WBC semifinals for the primary time to play Japan on Monday.

“We are showing what Mexican players are capable of at the highest level,” Gil mentioned.

Gil is thought for his (comparatively) unfiltered ideas on subjects. One is his future. He performed eight seasons within the majors — 4 every with the Texas Rangers and Angels — as a utility infielder and practically 20 years within the Mexican winter league. Now he desires to turn out to be a significant league supervisor. It’s what he’s working towards. It’s a cause why he took a job on the Angels’ teaching workers earlier than final season and a cause why he selected to handle Mexico within the WBC.

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“Anything that keeps you getting closer to the end goal,” Gil, 50, mentioned. “And the end goal is to manage at the big league level some day and win a world title.”

Gil isn’t the one supervisor within the match who may find yourself heading a significant league dugout sooner or later. Puerto Rico supervisor Yadier Molina started his managerial profession within the Venezuelan winter league instantly after retiring on the finish of final season following a 19-year profession with the St. Louis Cardinals. Team USA supervisor Mark DeRosa had by no means managed earlier than this match, however he’s interviewed for a number of main league managerial jobs.

DeRosa, nevertheless, mentioned he didn’t take the Team USA job with a watch on a future alternative within the majors.

Mexico supervisor Benji Gil claps throughout a World Baseball Classic sport in opposition to Colombia on March 11.

(Daniel Shirey / MLB Photos by way of Getty Images)

“I felt like it would just be a golden opportunity to get back in the fight with the best players in the world,” DeRosa mentioned. “That was the motivating factor in this.”

Team USA was the overwhelming favourite to win Pool C, however Mexico upset the Americans final Sunday. The outcome in the end served as a tiebreaker to win the group. But, as Gil famous, Mexico was given a foul draw.

Mexico landed in Miami from Phoenix at 7 a.m. Thursday. Instead of figuring out, Mexico selected to take the day without work. Meanwhile, the U.S., with an additional day of relaxation, labored out Friday at loanDepot Park. The adjustment additionally meant Mexico and Dodger ace Julio Urías had a day of relaxation taken away. Urías gave up 4 runs within the first inning Friday earlier than tossing three scoreless innings to finish his outing. He threw 60 pitches.

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“It’s nothing against the U.S., all right?” Gil mentioned. “If it’s because of TV, I’m telling you right now, if I’m not here, if I’m not at the tournament, I would be watching the game. And I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, well, I’m not going to watch the U.S. game because it’s on Friday and FS1, instead of Saturday on Fox.’”

Gil’s candor is refreshing in an more and more buttoned-up world. It’s one of many issues he’s identified for from his time managing in Mexico. That, and profitable. Gil has received rather a lot from the highest step. He’s compiled 4 championships within the Mexican winter league with the Tomateros de Culiacán, a crew he spent 13 seasons with as a participant. They misplaced in Game 7 of the championship sequence one other 12 months.

Last season was rocky in Culiacán. So rocky that he was fired in November after a disappointing begin solely to be re-hired inside hours after gamers protested the choice.

“For us, he’s a leader, a leader to follow,” mentioned Mexico catcher Alexis Wilson, who has additionally performed below Gil in Culiacán. “He’s a mentor for me and for many, someone who has given us that confidence you need.”

In his solely season in the summertime Mexican League, he led the growth Mariachis de Guadalajara to the league’s greatest document with out an growth draft to fill the roster. The exploits led to being named supervisor of Mexico’s Olympic baseball crew in Tokyo and to the place for the nation’s 2023 WBC crew — essentially the most proficient Mexican baseball crew ever assembled for a global competitors.

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“He’s the best manager in Mexico,” mentioned former main leaguer Edgar González, Mexico’s supervisor within the 2017 WBC. “And he’s the best because he’s a great motivator. Guys have to be able to motivate players nowadays.”

This week, Gil led Mexico to an sudden first-place end in Pool C, buoyed by an upset over Team USA in Phoenix. It’s a tiny pattern measurement added to a decade of managerial expertise. But none of that have has are available affiliated baseball.

Angels first base coach Benji Gil speaks with designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.

Angels first base coach Benji Gil speaks with designated hitter Shohei Ohtani throughout a sport in opposition to the Washington Nationals in April.

(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

“I want to believe that this helps, and that it should,” Gil mentioned. “I think anybody managing in this should be worthy of consideration. Hopefully, this matters and they’ll really evaluate. The way I would love it to be is that I’m literally getting scouted.”

Gil was born in Tijuana and grew up on each side of the border. He went to high school on the U.S. facet — in National City and Chula Vista — and performed all of his baseball in Mexico. He crossed the border, he mentioned, three or 4 instances per week. His father lived in Tijuana — he had a enterprise there — and visited days at a time.

Because of the expertise, he not solely seamlessly bounces between English and Spanish, however he pertains to Latinos and Americans alike at a unique degree. About 30% of gamers on major-league rosters are Latino. Gil’s skill to speak checks one other field.

“”There’s lots of people which are bilingual,” Gil mentioned. “There’s not a lot of people that are bicultural. There’s a tremendous difference.”

Gil mentioned he’s by no means interviewed for a significant league managerial job. He stays hopeful he’ll get a shot down the road. For now, he continues to pad his resume and converse his thoughts with a crew making historical past.