BRADENTON, Fla. – David Bednar can’t get over his experience in the World Baseball Classic. It is doubtful he will anytime soon.
The All-Star closer returned to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training camp Thursday morning, two days after the WBC ended with his United States team losing to Japan 3-2 in the championship game in Miami.
Bednar could not stop gushing about participating in the event.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “It’s such an honor to have the opportunity to play for your country, have USA across your chest, it’s really special. The whole thing was done so well. You saw all the games, just unbelievable throughout the whole process. Really, really cool.”
WBC games are played at a very high intensity level, many akin to a postseason game in the major leagues. Bednar admitted he was surprised by the atmosphere, especially during the time of year when big-league teams are playing exhibition games in Florida and Arizona.
“Without a doubt. That was one of the main takeaways,” Bednar said. “Every single game, every pitch mattered. You can really sense that everybody had the extra pride of really playing for their country and trying to represent their country the best that they could. The atmosphere certainly reflected that.
“The thing that comes to mind is the Venezuela game that we had was just crazy. That was one of the most unreal atmospheres I’ve ever been in, period, let alone just a baseball game. Unbelievable in all facets.”
The United States rallied to beat Venezuela 9-7 in the quarterfinals then beat Cuba 14-2 in the semifinals.
Though Team USA lost by a run in the championship game, Bednar pitched a scoreless inning. He gave up an infield single to tournament MVP Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels but then got the Boston Red Sox’s Masataka Yoshida to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Two innings later, Ohtani struck out Angels teammate Mike Trout to end the game in a matchup between arguably the two best players in baseball.
“Unbelievable. What are the chances of that actually happening? What an at-bat, too,” Bednar said. “I was top step of the dugout, hanging on every pitch just to see two of the guys that are at the top of the game right now in so many different ways, and to have that be the last out — unbelievable.
“Unbelievable baseball as a whole. All the games throughout the tournament were unbelievable. I was watching every single pitch. The back-and-forth between every game. I think the common theme is the pride that everybody has for their country and playing for something bigger than wins and losses; it was for the pride back home.
When asked if he’d like to play in the next WBC, which is scheduled for 2026, Bednar did not hesitate with his answer.
“Without a doubt,” Bednar said. “If I had the opportunity to do it again, if I’m lucky enough to do that again, it really was an honor to, one, have the opportunity. That’s a no-brainer. One of the most special experiences I’ve ever had in my life and something I’ll take with me forever. It was unbelievable.”