Toronto has seven major-league players slated to participate in next month’s World Baseball Classic.
Third baseman Brett Lawrie (Canada), shortstop Jose Reyes, first baseman Edwin Encarnacion, right-handed pitcher Esmil Rogers and left fielder Melky Cabrera (Dominican Republic) and catcher J.P. Arencibia (below on the left) and starting pitcher R.A. Dickey (below on the right) (U.S.A.) will represent the Blue Jays.
In mid-January, Blue Jays’ manager John Gibbons spoke publicly about the involvement of some of his best players, including recent additions Reyes, Cabrera and Dickey.
“From a selfish standpoint, it’s not ideal,” said Gibbons to The Global and Mail “I’m new to these guys, they’re new to me.”
As inconvenient as it might be, Gibbons understands the importance of the Classic.
“But this tournament is turning into a big thing and you’re playing for your country,” said Gibbons. “There’s pride involved there, so about all you can say is, go for it, man.”
Managers across the MLB deal with players leaving spring training, many have similar reactions to Gibbons.
Each team, however, has a different approach to the WBC because of various circumstances.
San Francisco, the defending champions, have no problem with players leaving for the WBC because the Giants essentially have the same team as last year.
But the Milwaukee Brewers lose 13 total players, nine major leaguers from a team that failed to make the postseason last year.
“It changes a lot,” Roenicke told the Fox Sports Arizona. “That many people makes it tough.”
In a 2009 story in the New York Daily News, MLB Commissioner Bud Selig said the World Baseball Classic is here to stay.
So for now, managers and players have to cope with the WBC.
The World Baseball Classic will begin on March 2.
Team Canada (Lawrie) plays Team U.S.A. (Arencibia and Dickey) in a Pool D match-up on Sunday March 10 at 4 p.m. at Chase Field in Arizona.
The Dominican Republic (Reyes, Rogers, Cabrera and Encarnacion) won’t meet, if at all, Canada or U.S.A. until after Pool play, as they will compete in Pool C.
DR opens up Pool play on Thursday March 7 against Venezuela in Puerto Rico.