Alejandro De Aza played for the Dominican Republic and Alex Rios for Puerto Rico, which means two-thirds of the Chicago White Sox starting outfield was gone for more than three weeks before the Dominican Republic beat Puerto Rico in the WBC championship game.
“I would be excited for them and would be proud that they were representing their countries,” Bret Heath, a St. Bonaventure baseball player, said in an interview. “It is such an honor to be asked to participate in the World Baseball Classic and an experience they will never forget.”Heath said he would use the absence of the starters as an opportunity to receive more playing time during spring training, which he wouldn’t get in a normal spring.
“Having two of my teammates play in the WBC championship game would be such an exciting time for all White Sox players,” Heath stated. “I can understand why coaches would hesitate to the let their players participate because they miss a lot of spring training and there is the obvious risk of injury. But, it is just such an amazing honor.”
When asked about Paul Konerko’s decision to not play for team USA, Heath said he understood where he was coming from. Konerko turned down the WBC because he did not feel he would be ready to play in March. Instead, he thinks the tournament should be moved to July.
“Having the tournament in the middle of the season would mean players are in top baseball shape, compared to the beginning of season when players are trying to get back into the swing of things,” added Heath. “I think the games would be even more fun to watch if everyone felt like they were playing to their highest potential.”