Mexico WBC manager Benji Gil wants a chance to lead an MLB team

Benji Gil didn’t maintain again. When requested concerning the World Baseball Basic’s choice to maneuver up Mexico’s quarterfinal sport towards Puerto Rico to Friday, the Mexico supervisor bluntly contended that it was unfair.

The plan had been for the winner of Pool C to play Saturday towards Pool D’s runner-up. Mexico received Pool C. Puerto Rico completed second in Pool D. However there was some positive print: Staff USA would play Saturday’s quarterfinal sport if it superior from Pool C it doesn’t matter what — whether or not the Individuals completed in first or second. In consequence, Staff USA will face Venezuela, the Pool D winner, Saturday whereas Mexico had an off day after a cross-country flight snatched away.

“It’s a drawback,” Gil mentioned a number of hours earlier than first pitch Friday. “100%.”

The hindrance in the end didn’t matter. Mexico got here from behind to beat Puerto Rico 5-4 after falling behind 4-0 within the first inning for the nation’s largest victory in worldwide baseball competitors. With it, Mexico superior to the WBC semifinals for the primary time to play Japan on Monday.

“We’re displaying what Mexican gamers are able to on the highest stage,” Gil mentioned.

Gil is thought for his (comparatively) unfiltered ideas on subjects. One is his future. He performed eight seasons within the majors — 4 every with the Texas Rangers and Angels — as a utility infielder and almost 20 years within the Mexican winter league. Now he needs to turn into a serious league supervisor. It’s what he’s working towards. It’s a purpose why he took a job on the Angels’ teaching workers earlier than final season and a purpose why he selected to handle Mexico within the WBC.

“Something that retains you getting nearer to the top objective,” Gil, 50, mentioned. “And the top objective is to handle on the huge league stage some day and win a world title.”

Gil isn’t the one supervisor within the match who might find yourself heading a serious league dugout sooner or later. Puerto Rico supervisor Yadier Molina started his managerial profession within the Venezuelan winter league instantly after retiring on the finish of final season following a 19-year profession with the St. Louis Cardinals. Staff USA supervisor Mark DeRosa had by no means managed earlier than this match, however he’s interviewed for a number of main league managerial jobs.

DeRosa, nonetheless, mentioned he didn’t take the Staff USA job with a watch on a future alternative within the majors.

Mexico supervisor Benji Gil claps throughout a World Baseball Basic sport towards Colombia on March 11.

(Daniel Shirey / MLB Photographs by way of Getty Pictures)

“I felt like it will simply be a golden alternative to get again within the struggle with the very best gamers on the planet,” DeRosa mentioned. “That was the motivating issue on this.”

Staff USA was the overwhelming favourite to win Pool C, however Mexico upset the Individuals final Sunday. The consequence in the end served as a tiebreaker to win the group. However, as Gil famous, Mexico was given a foul draw.

Mexico landed in Miami from Phoenix at 7 a.m. Thursday. As an alternative of understanding, Mexico selected to take the day without work. In the meantime, the U.S., with an additional day of relaxation, labored out Friday at loanDepot Park. The adjustment additionally meant Mexico and Dodger ace Julio Urías had a day of relaxation taken away. Urías gave up 4 runs within the first inning Friday earlier than tossing three scoreless innings to finish his outing. He threw 60 pitches.

“It’s nothing towards the U.S., all proper?” Gil mentioned. “If it’s due to TV, I’m telling you proper now, if I’m not right here, if I’m not on the match, I might be watching the sport. And I’m not going to say, ‘Oh, properly, I’m not going to observe the U.S. sport as a result of it’s on Friday and FS1, as an alternative of Saturday on Fox.’”

Gil’s candor is refreshing in an more and more buttoned-up world. It’s one of many issues he’s identified for from his time managing in Mexico. That, and successful. Gil has received quite a bit from the highest step. He’s compiled 4 championships within the Mexican winter league with the Tomateros de Culiacán, a staff he spent 13 seasons with as a participant. They misplaced in Sport 7 of the championship collection one other yr.

Final season was rocky in Culiacán. So rocky that he was fired in November after a disappointing begin solely to be re-hired inside hours after gamers protested the choice.

“For us, he’s a pacesetter, a pacesetter to comply with,” mentioned Mexico catcher Alexis Wilson, who has additionally performed below Gil in Culiacán. “He’s a mentor for me and for a lot of, somebody who has given us that confidence you want.”

In his solely season in the summertime Mexican League, he led the growth Mariachis de Guadalajara to the league’s greatest file with out an growth draft to fill the roster. The exploits led to being named supervisor of Mexico’s Olympic baseball staff in Tokyo and to the place for the nation’s 2023 WBC staff — probably the most gifted Mexican baseball staff ever assembled for a global competitors.

“He’s the very best supervisor in Mexico,” mentioned former main leaguer Edgar González, Mexico’s supervisor within the 2017 WBC. “And he’s the very best as a result of he’s an ideal motivator. Guys have to have the ability to inspire gamers these days.”

This week, Gil led Mexico to an sudden first-place end in Pool C, buoyed by an upset over Staff USA in Phoenix. It’s a tiny pattern measurement added to a decade of managerial expertise. However none of that have has are available affiliated baseball.

Angels first base coach Benji Gil speaks with designated hitter Shohei Ohtani.

Angels first base coach Benji Gil speaks with designated hitter Shohei Ohtani throughout a sport towards the Washington Nationals in April.

(Ashley Landis / Related Press)

“I need to consider that this helps, and that it ought to,” Gil mentioned. “I feel anyone managing on this needs to be worthy of consideration. Hopefully, this issues they usually’ll actually consider. The best way I might find it irresistible to be is that I’m actually getting scouted.”

Gil was born in Tijuana and grew up on each side of the border. He went to high school on the U.S. aspect — in Nationwide Metropolis and Chula Vista — and performed all of his baseball in Mexico. He crossed the border, he mentioned, three or 4 occasions every week. His father lived in Tijuana — he had a enterprise there — and visited days at a time.

Due to the expertise, he not solely seamlessly bounces between English and Spanish, however he pertains to Latinos and Individuals alike at a special stage. About 30% of gamers on major-league rosters are Latino. Gil’s capacity to speak checks one other field.

“”There’s lots of people which can be bilingual,” Gil mentioned. “There’s not lots of people which can be bicultural. There’s an incredible distinction.”

Gil mentioned he’s by no means interviewed for a serious league managerial job. He stays hopeful he’ll get a shot down the road. For now, he continues to pad his resume and converse his thoughts with a staff making historical past.