Come March, spring training will be interrupted because of the World Baseball Classic. It’s the third time for the WBC, and while it comes at an odd time of year, it has the backing of both Major League Baseball and the Players Association.
In fact, some think that the cooperation is one of the reasons why the sport is currently the one with the least labor strife.
Spring training starts a week earlier so that teams can have some of their players with them before they report to their respective national teams.
Pedro Strop will pitch for the Dominican and two minor league catchers, Allan De San Miguel and Chris Robinson will represent Australia and Canada.
Last week, U.S. manager Joe Torre said at the Winter Meetings that he’ll be naming the 28-member U.S. team on Jan. 16.
Orioles manager Buck Showalter isn’t a huge fan of the format, and said last week that he would prefer the WBC be played during an extended All-Star break.
Wei-Yin Chen won’t pitch for Chinese Taipei Showalter indicated that Jim Johnson, who had a slow start in spring training last season, would pass on an opportunity to go.
Three Orioles, Adam Jones, Matt Wieters and J.J. Hardy are likely to be considered by Torre. Nick Markakis, who played for the Greek Olympic Team in 2004, could be a candidate, too.
It wouldn’t be as worrisome to Showalter if Jones and Hardy left the team for a few weeks, but it would irk him if Wieters couldn’t work with the pitchers, especially new ones. It’s unlikely that any Orioles starting pitchers will participate.
The U.S. team begins play on Mar. 7. The finals are on Mar. 19.