While Team USA released their roster for the World Baseball Classic on Thursday morning, the rest of the world waited until 4 pm eastern to do so. On a normal January 17, Red Sox fans might have sat around waiting all day to hear about whether Ryan Dempster was going to participate for Team Canada or not, but, since Mike Napoli signed prior to the announcement, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia avoided arbitration shortly after, maybe the desperation for Boston-related news isn't quite as palpable.
Still, whether Dempster pitches or not is important to those who would rather see him stick in spring training with his new club, manager, pitching coach, and catchers, or those concerned that any pitcher might ramp up too quickly -- as Daisuke Matsuzaka might have done -- and cause damage to their arms or careers or the Red Sox in the process.
Alas, Dempster will not be pitching for Canada. but minor-league hurler Jose De La Torre and reliever Alfredo Aceves will be joining outfielder Shane Victorino and top prospect Xander Bogaerts in the tournament. Victorino is playing in the outfield for Team USA, but his absence allows for someone like Ryan Kalish to pick up some much needed spring at-bats. Bogaerts, too, will likely see a boost in playing time, as he's not even on Boston's 40-man roster nor in the immediate plans for 2013, and therefore was no guarantee to see much time in spring contests. His representing the Netherlands, in that context, is a positive for the Sox, much like playing in a fall or winter league would be.
De La Torre is joining Puerto Rico -- where he will be caught by brothers Jose and Yadier Molina -- while Aceves will pitch for Mexico. De La Torre was acquired for Lars Anderson last summer, and while he isn't on the 40-man, he's part of Boston's extended relief depth in the system. Aceves, of course, was Boston's closer last year, until he was bumped out of the role for a combination of Andrew Bailey's return and his own inadequacy on the mound as of late. What's intriguing about Aceves is that he hasn't earned a guaranteed spot in the bullpen yet -- is it fair to think this could impact his chances of sticking with Boston, if Daniel Bard, Andrew Miller, or whoever pitches lights out all spring while still in camp?
For Sox fans, the only real positive from this is that, if Mexico doesn't let Aceves start or close, he just might have a temper tantrum that we can look at with the same eyes as the rest of the league for a change. Then again, maybe we don't want him to come back to camp annoyed. It's a long season, after all.