Categorized | Baseball

World Baseball Classic still seems a trivial diversion

Since baseball is no longer in the Olympics, MLB and other baseball entities would like nothing more than to make the 2013 World Baseball Classic a big event.

But with teams skittish about letter their players actually play in the games, it’s become more like the NFL’s Pro Bowl, a trivial diversion. With a long season ahead, many teams would rather their guys be playing long toss, stretching and taking BP than playing in any kind of meaningful game in March.

The teams have some evidence: Diasuke Matsuzaka pretty much went on a steady decline because of injuries after pitching 14.2 innings in the WBC for Japan in 2009. Joel Hanrahan, now with the Red Sox, also got a lot of work that spring and felt it affected him in April.

“I think the thing that got to me the most was the travel that early,” Hanrahan said to the website of Boston radio station WEEI. “You’re going from city to city. I flew back from Los Angeles and as soon as I got back I had to through another game, and then another game. The days off and stuff like that make it hard.”

It doesn’t seem to be as tough for position players, but already this winter, Mike Trout has announced he won’t play for the United States. He would have been a certain starter (and probably the leadoff hitter). However, the Marlins’ Giancarlo Stanton says he will play for Team USA. (And why not: It’s the only chance he’ll have to play on a decent team all year.) Accoridng to’s Jon Heyman, David Wright, Ryan Braun, Joe Mauer, Adam Jones and Brandon Phillips will play for Joe Torre’s USA team.

Japan has won the first two WBCs in 2006 and 2009. The USA has yet to medal in two tournaments, which would be embarrassing if players and teams from the USA actually seemed to care.

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