PEORIA, Ariz. -- After a whirlwind experience in the World Baseball Classic that saw his native Puerto Rico come up one win short of the title, closer Edwin Diaz was back in the Mariners clubhouse Friday morning.
Diaz appeared in four games for Puerto Rico and recorded two saves and a victory. He allowed two runs on two hits with four walks and nine strikeouts in 5 1/3 innings pitched.
"It was fantastic," Diaz said. "We play for our country, represent our country. We're doing well. It was a great feeling. Everything feels like a playoff game over there."
Diaz flashed his electric stuff that made him so successful with Seattle after making the jump from Double-A to the majors last season. The pressure of elimination games gave the tournament a similar feeling to a potential playoff appearance. The experience is something Diaz believes will help him if the Mariners can break their playoff drought this year.
"I know I need to be in that situation because if we make the playoffs this year, that's the kind of situation I need to pitch this year," Diaz said. "I was feeling relaxed and I do my job."
"I was excited about making pitches. I show a lot of emotion over there. But when I was making my pitches, I was relaxed."
Diaz said he expected to carry more of that same emotion into his outings this year with the Mariners now that he's more comfortable with the big leagues and his role in the bullpen.Diaz quickly jumped back to work with the Mariners and tossed a bullpen session prior to Seattle's split-squad games with Kansas City and the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday.
"I'd like to get him up and going in a normal routing as quick as we can," manager Scott Servais said on Thursday. "... He's anxious to get back and I think he's learned a lot from it and he'll continue to grow from it."
Before making it back to Peoria, Diaz accompanied the team home to Puerto Rico for a homecoming celebration for their performance.
"The people got crazy in the streets. It was awesome man," Diaz said.
The entire Puerto Rico team had dyed their hair bleach-blonde for the tournament. The idea was formed by Javy Baez and Yadier Molina, who then led the whole team to follow suit.
"If they do it, everybody needs to do it," Diaz said.
While it was a rallying point for the club in the WBC, Diaz was anxious to get his natural hair color back as well.
"I need to get it black again today," Diaz said. "I do it for the team in Puerto Rico. But now I'm here in Seattle, I need to put it black again."
Photo Credit: LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 20: Pitcher Edwin Diaz #39 of the Puerto Rico pitches in the ninth inning against team Netherlands during Game 1 of the Championship Round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic at Dodger Stadium on March 20, 2017 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)