The Red Sox will not have to worry about any of their aces getting hurt at the World Baseball Classic. According to Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald, David Price and Chris Sale have joined Rick Porcello in choosing to skip the quadrennial tournament.
While those invested in the World Baseball Classic and, in particular, Team USA’s chances might not be too happy with the news, it’s hard to paint this as anything but a positive from the Red Sox’ perspective. It can be argued that the injury risk and wear-and-tear inflicted on players during the WBC is overblown, particularly when you consider the players would be active all-the-same in spring training. But it’s hard to argue that the more lax environment of spring could possibly be worse.
This also kind of puts the recent flare of concern surrounding the rotation in perspective. Yes, Eduardo Rodriguez hurt his knee a bit. On that front, we’ve only heard good news—Rodriguez is walking normally and without pain according to Peter Abraham of the Globe, with the lefty expected to be fully ready to start spring training on schedule—but the real point is that even if Eduardo Rodriguez were not feeling 100%, here the Red Sox have three of the better pitchers in the American League all committing to a normal spring training which should have them in prime position to excel in 2017 atop the rotation.
Drellich notes that Dave Dombrowski is outwardly supportive of the WBC, but that he could hardly be otherwise. It’s an awkward relationship caused in no small part by just how closely the tournament lines up with the beginning of the season, and exacerbated by the nationalist aspects of the tournament. Throw in that the league as a whole wants the WBC to succeed simply to promote the sport, and to be anti-WBC is to be anti-America and anti-baseball. Not a great look.
But when it comes down to it, baseball GMs want what’s best for the team ahead of what’s best for baseball, even if the situation doesn’t let them be open about it. And what’s best for the Red Sox here is their entire roster sitting out the WBC and participating fully in spring training instead.
That won’t happen. We have Xander Bogaerts and Hanley Ramirez already committed to participating, at least, for their teams. While much of the position players spots for Team USA have tentatively been filled, Dustin Pedroia (who skipped 2013 due to injuries in 2012), Jackie Bradley Jr., and especially Mookie Betts would likely be welcome if they were willing. Craig Kimbrel, a member of the 2013 team, could also find his way onto the roster.
And of course there’s Eduardo Rodriguez. We’ll see.