Didi excited for reunion with Classic mates

Didi excited for reunion with Classic mates

TAMPA, Fla. -- There should be plenty of inside jokes flying around the Netherlands clubhouse during the World Baseball Classic, especially when Didi Gregorius, Jurickson Profar, Jonathan Schoop and Andrelton Simmons huddle together.

Suiting up for the Dutch squad will serve as an extended reunion for the players, who have known each other since they were grade schoolers growing up on the Caribbean island of Curacao.

"It's just playing with all the guys that I played with before, since we were kids," Gregorius said. "We get a chance to play with each other again, have a little fun and play the game the right way."

Gregorius will leave his Yankees pinstripes behind on Tuesday as he reports for the Classic, first traveling to New York and then making a lengthy jump to Seoul, South Korea, where the Dutch are scheduled to play their first game against Korea on March 7.

His plan?

"A lot of electrolytes," Gregorius said, with a laugh. "You've got to drink a lot of fluids. You know it's a long flight, but you don't want any jet lag. You try to sleep at the right time on the plane, too."

In 2011, Gregorius was knighted after playing for the victorious Netherlands national baseball team in the Baseball World Cup. A strained ligament in his right elbow kept Gregorius from participating in the World Baseball Classic two years later, which is why he did not want to pass up this opportunity.

"I wanted to experience it at least one time," Gregorius said. "It's guys that I've played with since I was 6 or 8. In 2011 we became champions and had a great team, and this team is even better now. We'll see how far we go."

The World Baseball Classic runs from March 6-22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. Internationally, the tournament will be distributed across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

While Gregorius is absent from Yankees camp, manager Joe Girardi said that he anticipates dividing the playing time at shortstop among Jorge Mateo, Ruben Tejada, Gleyber Torres, Ronald Torreyes and Tyler Wade.

"With Didi leaving, and he'll be gone a substantial amount of time, everyone is going to get a chance to play," Girardi said. "With people not playing a whole game, you'll see two a day."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.