MESA, Ariz. – This won’t be the mantra printed across Joe Maddon’s next line of T-shirts – or on any of the yoga gear sold in the pop-up shops directly outside the Cubs clubhouse here – but it summed up Hector Rondon’s performance with Team Venezuela: "F--- it, it is what it is."
Overall, Rondon still appreciated the opportunity to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, even though he experienced a meltdown against Team USA and the Venezuelans didn’t advance to the semifinals at Dodger Stadium.
"Any time you go to represent your country and be there for those fans, it’s fun," Rondon said Sunday, returning to the Sloan Park complex with a positive attitude. "I know I had a bad outing that day. I enjoyed playing with those guys."
Rondon couldn’t protect a one-run, eighth-inning lead last week in San Diego, giving up home runs to Adam Jones and Eric Hosmer as the Americans rallied for a 4-2 win at Petco Park and eventually escaped the second round of the international showcase.
Rondon got five outs for Team Venezuela, giving up five runs on seven hits and two walks in two appearances combined.
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"Everything is working good, my arm, my velocity," Rondon said. "I just missed a couple pitches, and that’s it.
"Those hitters are really good and they know me. I don’t know that much about them, but now I know. I’m really happy. I know I didn’t have the success that I wanted there, but still in my heart and my mind, I’m really happy."
This will be magnified with Rondon after the Cubs traded for Aroldis Chapman and Wade Davis and Maddon bumped his ex-closer from the circle of trust during last year’s World Series run.
The Cubs still believe Rondon is healthy and ready to contribute to what should be a lights-out bullpen.
"He said he feels great, and that’s all I want to hear," Maddon said. "We’ll fine-tune the location of his pitches, because the other day he said he had great stuff. It was just in a bad spot, (and) he knows that, so he’s very accountable about the other night. He feels like he knows what he needs to do to fix it. I love that. I like the upbeat nature."