TAMPA, Fla. - Robinson Cano stepped into the batter's box in a Dominican Republic uniform instead of his usual Yankees attire and couldn't help but flash a smile just before he faced teammate Hiroki Kuroda.
Kuroda temporarily slowed down Cano and the heavy-hitting Dominican Republic World Baseball Classic team, allowing two hits over three scoreless innings in the New York Yankees' 8-2 loss on Wednesday.
"That was fun. … I was laughing at first," said Cano, who played against the Yankees for the first time. "He's got good stuff. This is a game just to have fun because it doesn't count. Just go out there and get ready."
Cano went 1 for 3, including an RBI single off Clay Rapada in the fifth. Cano flied out facing Kuroda during the first and had a fourth-inning grounder against Cody Eppley.
Kuroda struck out four.
"A great lineup," Kuroda said through a translator. "All the big-leaguers are superstars. So, to get a good result against them was a good feeling."
The Dominican Republic opens WBC play tonight against Venezuela at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
"We just came to play," Dominican Republic manager Tony Peña said. "I'm glad to see our ballclub doing what they're doing. I like the way they go at it. I like my ballclub, the effort they put into it."
Peña, the Yankees bench coach, found himself in a strange spot, the visitor's third base side dugout at Steinbrenner Field.
"It feels a little weird being on this side," Peña said. "But I told Robby, 'Hey, let's go.'"
Jose Reyes, Cano and Hanley Ramirez each hit homers in the Dominican Republic's 28-hit, 15-2 victory over the Philadelpahia Phillies on Tuesday in the first of two exhibition games.
The Dominican Republic failed to advance past the first round at the last WBC in 2009.
"They were embarrassed, and they don't want to go through it" again, Peña said. "I don't want to go through it. They're into this. Hopefully we can do well."
A Yankees' lineup that featured only a few regulars - Travis Hafner was the DH, and Kevin Youkilis played third - was held hitless until Zoilo Almonte hit a two-out, two-run homer in the seventh.
New York minor-leaguer Vidal Nuno, loaned to Dominican Republic, started and issued one walk over four innings.
Ricardo Nanita's run-scoring double and Alejandro De Aza's RBI triple during a three-run sixth that made it 5-0.
Miguel Tejada received a curtain call from the Dominican fans after scoring from first on an infield error in the eighth inning.
"I can't wait," Cano said of the WBC tournament. "Now we're going to go there and just do our job."