Like many Dodger fans, I was more than just a little upset when the 2013 World Baseball Classic rosters were announced on Thursday only to learn that there were zero Dodgers representing Team USA. “This is ridiculous,” I said to myself. “Where is the pride, where is the honor?”
…and then it struck me.
Aside from the second base position, the entire projected Dodgers Opening Day starting infield is participating in the WBC – Adrian Gonzalez at first base representing Team Mexico, Hanley Ramirez at shortstop representing Team Dominican Republic (although my guess is that he will probably DH), and Luis Cruz at third base also representing Team Mexico. And for good measure, you’ve got utility infielder Nick Punto representing Team Italy, minor league infielder Felipe Burin representing Team Brazil, and relievers Ronald Belisario, Paco Rodriguez and Peter Moylan representing Venezuela, Spain and Australia respectively.
In other words, six guys, or almost one quarter of the Dodgers current 25-man roster, will be participating in the 2013 World Baseball Classic (Moylan and Burin are currently not on either the 25-man or 40-man rosters).
Sure I would have loved to see Matt Kemp, Carl Crawford, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke representing Team USA, but it doesn’t take rocket science to figure out why none of them are – Kemp and Crawford are no brainers, Kershaw is trying to avoid further aggravation to his hip, and it’s a pretty safe bet that the guys signing Zack Greinke’s $142 million check do not particularly care to see their investment risk injury in a World Baseball Classic tournament that begins exactly three weeks into spring training. Keep in mind that Greinke would become the Dodgers number one starter if (Lord forbid) Kershaw’s hip flares up again.
Please understand that in no way am I questioning the patriotism of anyone within the Dodgers organization; in fact, I’d be willing to bet that to the man, they all would love to represent Team USA in the WBC. But the thing to keep in perspective here is that aside from a handful of guys, nearly everyone in spring training camp will be fighting for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
So what do you think – pride or practicality?