Rios, De Aza proud of Classic performances

Rios, De Aza proud of Classic performances

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- It didn't take long for Alejandro De Aza and Alex Rios to feel right at home in the White Sox lineup for Thursday's 8-3 Cactus League victory over the Brewers.

De Aza led off with a single against Brewers starter Mike Fiers and Alex Rios followed two batters later with a two-run double during a three-run first inning. Two-thirds of the White Sox starting outfield was gone from Arizona for basically three weeks as part of the World Baseball Classic.

Rios started in right field for the runner-up from Puerto Rico and topped the team with seven runs scored in nine games. De Aza had two doubles and three RBIs as the center fielder for the unbeaten champions from the Dominican Republic over eight games.

Both players enjoyed the experience of representing their respective countries.

"The group of guys we had, the combination of young kids and veterans was perfect for us and it worked out very well," Rios said. "We enjoyed the whole thing."

"Thank God they give me the chance to go there and play," said De Aza, who replaced Carlos Gomez on the Dominican roster. "I enjoy it the most that I can."

There was a strange feeling felt by De Aza and Rios playing against each other with the championship on the line, and Rios acknowledged with a smile that De Aza will probably give him a hard time concerning the Dominican victory. Rios quickly added that the Dominican Republic had a great team from top to bottom.

Despite the loss, Rios believes his team's showing was important for the state of baseball in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

"We're a small island and we want to represent," Rios said. "We know our fans appreciate what we do and we do it with a lot of passion. We took a lot of pride in this event. To get so far in this event, it's important for the people at home."

"It's nice just to have them back," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said. "You get a little more of a flow of how the lineup would go if that's the way you roll it out."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for Read his blog, Merk's Works, and follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.