KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Fresh off his country's victory in the World Baseball Classic, Astros relief pitcher Jose Veras returned to camp on Thursday and was beaming with pride Friday morning while talking about the Dominican Republic's performance. The Dominicans closed out their undefeated run to the Classic title in convincing fashion with a 3-0 defeat of Puerto Rico on Tuesday night in San Francisco.
"It was something that I can't explain," Veras said. "It was unbelievable to be there and the feeling you have, the pressure you have in each game is impressive. The first two games I was there, I couldn't imagine it was going to have that intensity, it's going to be that tough, and then after that you're starting to find out the spirit of the game and the way we play -- it was like World Series games."
Veras pitched in two games for the Dominican team, throwing 1 2/3 innings, but the chance to contribute to the win and share it with his fellow countrymen was a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"We always prayed to God to have the victory and prayed to God to do our job, to do our best because some people didn't think we can make it, some people didn't think we could do it because guys were thinking we were missing All-Star players, but it's not about names," Veras said. "It was about one goal and that's why we won every game and played with our heart every day, and that was the way we made it."
Veras will now turn his attention to the Astros. He hasn't pitched in a Grapefruit League game since March 1, and he's the clear favorite to begin the season as the team's closer.
"I'm probably going to pitch three or four or five more times before we leave [for Houston]," Veras said. "We're going to be OK knowing I have to focus on my job here and to prepare for a long season. The WBC is over and thank God we won, and now I have to focus forward."
Left-hander Xavier Cedeno, who pitched for Puerto Rico, was also back in camp on Friday.