The World Baseball Classic, running from March 6-22, features some of the best players from around the globe, and this year’s tournament will showcase a number of St. Louis Cardinals.
In total, the team will send eleven members of the organization to play for seven of the 16 countries competing.
Notable participants in the classic are Matt Carpenter and Brett Cecil (USA), Carlos Martinez and Alex Reyes (Dominican Republic), Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico), and Seung Hwan Oh (Korea).
Minor Leaguers Corey Baker and Ryan Sherriff (Israel), Trey Nielsen (Italy), Alberto Rosario (Dominican Republic), and Rowan Wick (Canada) will also play.
How the tournament will impact a players’ readiness for the 2017 Major League season will be determined by the success of their team as well as the amount of playing time a player sees. The farther a team advances, the longer those players are away from their teams in spring training.
The World Baseball Classic can prove to be a benefit to those who get regular work. However, those who see little playing time, if any at all, may be ill prepared to start the regular season.
For example, in 2013, former reliever Mitchell Boggs only pitched in 1 1/3 innings in the tournament. Subsequently, he played in a mere 18 games for the Cardinals that year, with a catastrophic 11.05 ERA to boot. A demotion to the minors and a trade to the Rockies soon followed. This coming after a dominant 2012 campaign in which he pitched in 78 games with an ERA of 2.21. Maybe just a coincidence, maybe not.
Nonetheless, there is a learning curve to playing in the tournament while also getting ready for Major League play.
Molina and Oh are no strangers, however, as they’ve participated in each of the first three classics. Veterans such as Carpenter and Cecil have the wherewithal to be prepared for the start of the season, while rookie Reyes should benefit by playing alongside Martinez.
Starting in 2006, this will be the fourth classic. Japan has won twice, with the most recent champion being the Dominican Republic in 2013. The United States’ best finish was 4th place in 2009.
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