The World Baseball Classic certainly has its positive qualities for players, teams and fans alike. Players get to spend time with their countrymen and play for national pride. That’s a special feeling, particularly for countries outside the United States. Fans get a chance to watch some mostly competitive baseball a month earlier than usual. Teams get a chance to see some players on a stage they otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This may be a painful example, but the WBC is where Daisuke Matsuzaka really put himself onto the map.
Of course, there is a flipside to all of this. When injuries become involved, it can be an awkward situation between the team and the player. The Red Sox have already dealt with that this winter and spring with Eduardo Rodriguez, and they have another situation coming up with Hanley Ramirez. According to reports, the projected DH/1B is dealing with some shoulder troubles and a decision will soon be made about whether or not he’ll suit up for Team Dominican Republic.
Now, a few important pieces off the bat. For one, there doesn’t seem to be any animosity between the two sides. Secondly, this doesn’t appear to be a major injury, but rather a nagging one that should be fine by Opening Day. Finally, unless this turns into something more, it’s really up to Ramirez. According to Rob Bradford, he’s still planning to go.
Ramirez hasn’t really been affected at the plate, as his swing has looked fine this spring. Where the slugger has been held back is in the field. Although he’s going to spend most of this year as the DH, he’s also going to be the primary first baseman against left-handed pitching. He’s yet to play the position this spring, and hasn’t been able to start his throwing program. That is Boston’s issue with Ramirez playing in the WBC. Like with the Red Sox, Ramirez will be playing DH for the Dominican Republic. However, since he’s already behind John Farrell would like Ramirez to take part in his throwing program while he’s away.
Boston’s manager was expected to get in touch with Dominican officials on Wednesday, likely to discuss a strategy for dealing with Ramirez’ program and make sure there is a line of communication there. If Hanley still can’t throw today, one would assume they will run more tests on the sore shoulder to see if there’s something more serious there. If there is, the team may have enough to prevent their slugger from playing in the international tournament this month. More likely, though, it will be up to Ramirez. My guess is he’ll be playing, and the Red Sox will be in constant communication with him and his Dominican coaching staff. Either way, a decision will come soon and we’ll update this post when it’s made.
UPDATE: He will not be playing. After the David Price news, it’s probably best to just wrap everyone in bubble wrap. IMHO.