Classic a must-watch for Crew camp

Pitchers Lopez, Burgos playing for Puerto Rico vs. Netherlands on Monday

Classic a must-watch for Crew camp

PHOENIX -- The Peoria, Ariz., apartment shared by Brewers teammates Rene Garcia, Yadiel Rivera and Domingo Santana becomes a World Baseball Classic viewing party spot whenever Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic is on.

They watched a thriller Saturday night, when the D.R. was eliminated by Team USA in a game that sent the U.S. on to the semifinals. Among the other three teams still standing is Puerto Rico, which features Brewers pitchers Hiram Burgos and Jorge Lopez.

You can bet their teammates will be watching in Peoria. Puerto Rico's opening game against the Netherlands is Monday at 8 p.m. CT on MLB Network.

"It's going to be exciting. We need that for our island," Garcia said. "We are facing a tough situation right now economically, and we need baseball back. The people are going to be excited if we win the [Classic]."

It's already been a big year for Puerto Rico. Burgos, Rivera and another Brewers player in big league camp, Ivan De Jesus Jr., were part of the team that won the Caribbean Series in February, ending the island's 17-year drought.

"I think every Latin guy is locked in right now with the World Baseball Classic," Rivera said. "It would be something special [if Puerto Rico wins it]. When we got the Caribbean Series, people started talking about, 'We won the Caribbean Series, now let's go win the world.' It would be awesome."

Rivera has been staying in touch via text during the tournament with fellow shortstop Francisco Lindor of the Indians. Rivera has also been texting the two Brewers pitchers on Team Puerto Rico.

"I feel like we're connected," Rivera said, "no matter how far we are."

While Burgos and Lopez play on, two key Brewers players are on their way back to camp after their countries were eliminated in the tournament. The D.R.'s Jonathan Villar and Venezuela's Hernan Perez should be back Tuesday when the Brewers return from a day off.

"We're missing two big players here," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said. "I'm anxious to get those guys back at this point. We're getting to two weeks away from Opening Day, so I am getting anxious to get those guys back, for sure."

The World Baseball Classic runs through Wednesday. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Adam McCalvy has covered the Brewers for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.