LOS ANGELES – Kenley Jansen joined the Netherlands for the Final Round of the World Baseball Classic, and threw a crucial ninth inning against Puerto Rico in a game the Netherlands lost, 4-3. Fresh off signing a five-year, $80 million deal to stay in L.A., Jansen only tossed nine pitches in the Classic. After the Orange were eliminated from the WBC in extra innings, Jansen spoke to us about baseball in the Netherlands and Aruba.
Gabriel Fidler: You’ve had some moments for the Netherlands’ team before, and a lot of people were well aware that you were a catcher when you were pumping gas in previous tournaments. Can you reflect on how different it is now, being on the other side and that transition, from the perspective of being on the national team?
Kenley Jansen: For me, I’ve pitching for a while now, so it’s normal for me now, but definitely playing the Baseball Classic as a catcher that definitely got my career started as a pitcher, so when I did those aggressive throws, that definitely made them make their decision. But it’s also, it’s still ‘wow!’, it’s a ‘wow’ moment, because [I’m thinking] ‘here you were a catcher in the World Baseball Classic and now here you are now as a pitcher. I had a blast today.
GF: You, obviously, have been stateside for a while, including since the last Classic; how have the opinions of the players around you and the fans changed about the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic over this time in between this tournament and the previous one?
KJ: For us, just being the underdogs for quite a while now, you just try and go out there and compete and put our country on the map, and that’s what we’ve been doing.
GF: I think it’s now safe to say the country is now on the map.
KJ: It’s on the map now. For us, do it again and get so far, they’re going to show you how baseball is going to keep continuing to grow in the outlands, Curaçao, Aruba, Sint Eustatius, Sint Maarten. We had a blast and these guys played hard.
GF: Can you talk about your experience in the Netherlands?
KJ: Normally soccer is the biggest thing in the Netherlands, so now baseball is about to grow even more. You can see we came so close again to winning and it’s going to continue to grow. I was there, I pitched there in 2009, I believe.
GF: Thank you so much. Good luck this year.
KJ: Okay, thank you.
Jansen had to return to the clubhouse before we could speak more about baseball in the Netherlands Antilles and in Europe. We hope to offer more with the Dodgers’ closer after spring training with another interview at Dodger Stadium during L.A.’s opening series against the Padres.