SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A quick glance around the Rockies' clubhouse Monday morning revealed a roomful of players with wide smiles on their faces. Carlos Gonzalez was back from the World Baseball Classic, and rather than lament the second-round exit by Team Venezuela, he and his teammates reveled in the opportunity to be back together as a team.
In his second Classic, Gonzalez went four games further with Venezuela than in 2013, forcing a tiebreaker and making it to the second round, where his team went winless against Puerto Rico, the United States and the Dominican Republic.
"At least I'm glad that I got to play a little longer," Gonzalez said. "Last time I only played three games and we were out. Of course, you want to be in the championship, but it was a little better. It was fun."
The challenge of moving on through two tough pools made for an intense break from Spring Training, and Venezuela advanced from the first round through a complicated tiebreaker process that favored its lineup's ability to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard.
Gonzalez did his part, hitting .308 (8-for-26) with a pair of doubles in seven games, amping things up after starting the spring at .250 (5-for-20) in seven Cactus League games.
"It's good for the players," Gonzalez said. "You're playing almost playoff games this early. It's going to help us mentally just to take everything else so slow, because we were playing fast games with a lot of adrenaline."
The winless second round was tough on Venezuela, but Gonzalez found plenty of positives to make it worthwhile.
"The whole second round was fun, because the teams that were in it -- U.S., Dominican, Puerto Rico, Venezuela," Gonzalez said. "It was fun to play against my teammate [Nolan Arenado]. This is not going to happen very often, so you better enjoy it. It felt weird to have a tough spot, I'm playing defense, and Nolan is hitting. What do I do now?"
Arenado and reliever Jake McGee are still competing with Team USA -- the second time the team has made it to the semifinals in four Classics, and Gonzalez credits success with waking the American fans up and getting them more excited by the tournament.
"It's hard not to when your team is in," Gonzalez said, lighting up the locker room with his laughter. "If your team's not in it, you don't care anymore."
Ultimately, Gonzalez's second Classic was worth it, and it's easy to imagine the 31-year-old leaping at the chance to represent Venezuela again in four years.
"The WBC's a tournament we play for our country," Gonzalez said. "You go from playing games here when you're trying to get ready, to playing 150 percent. But it was fun being around the guys and playing against some really good players from other countries. I can't regret that."
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 games the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.