SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants waited too long to add closer Mark Melancon. Team USA isn't making the same mistake.
Melancon will join teammates Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford at Dodger Stadium this week for the final two games of the World Baseball Classic. The first-year Giant was added to the roster after the first round, and he said that was done with the understanding he would join for the semifinals if Team USA reached that point.
"I've watched a lot. I've enjoyed it. Knowing most of the guys in the games, it's been fun to watch the country pride that they have," Melancon said. "To me, some of it is ridiculous, but when you know them and understand their background and how big a deal culturally it is, you end up starting to get on board with the way they go about things."
Melancon was asked to be part of the original roster, but he wanted to get comfortable with his new team. In eight spring innings, he hasn't allowed a run. He said he has started to think about how exciting it might be to close out a title run for his country, joking that he'll unbutton his shirt and flash the bow-and-arrow celebration.
Either way, the Giants were losing a star pitcher after Saturday's game, a 6-3 win for the United States. If the Dominican Republic had won, Johnny Cueto would have pitched the semifinal game Tuesday night. Cueto was watching video of Japan earlier in the week and was excited to use his quick-pitches and shimmies to disrupt high leg kicks. When he walked into the clubhouse Sunday morning, Cueto was greeted with a "USA! USA!" chant. He smiled and laughed.
"This is a game, and you have to know how to win and lose," he said. "I know some fans and players felt I didn't want to go but they know why I couldn't."
Cueto was supposed to be part of the Dominican team throughout the tournament, but he was three weeks late to camp while taking care of his ill father. He said he took some heat back home, and he had to block a few people on Twitter and Instagram because he was being called a traitor.
"There was a lot of talk back home that I didn't want to play because I'm making too much money," he said. "They're saying that when other players like (Robinson) Cano who are making more than that are participating. Everyone should know that I didn't go because I wasn't ready. My arm wasn't ready. I truly wanted to represent my country."