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Changes Are Needed For the WBC to Lessen Injuries

The World Baseball Classic is a great time to cheer for your country and see professional players take the field wearing their country’s uniforms and national colors. Even if you are not raised in that country but the your parents are, you qualify to play for them. Injuries are making WBC less enjoyable to see the start of the Major League season.

You get to play for countries like Israel, the Netherlanders, Australia, and Italy, You try to prove to the world your team in America is better than Japan’s. Or you see how different cultures approach the game of baseball. Are you quiet and respectful or loud and boastful.

It showcase talent that you do not see unless you go to minor league games. It also, brings  scouts to view potential talent and ball players looking to get signed.

Granted, it is a marketing ploy to bring America’s national past time to the world. The WBC engages national pride and brings people together to talk baseball, not politics and climate change.

However, there is a chance you take and a price to pay for a Major League baseball player if he suffers an injury.

Case in point. Kansas City Royals starting catcher and team leader, Salvador Perez suffered an injury when Drew Butera, a teammate on the Royals,  collided with him at home plate in a game against Italy. Fortunately for Perez and the Royals, no structural damage to his left knee was discovered. Can you imagine the horrified look on the faces of Royals’ ownership and fans when they saw Perez carried off the field?

Imagine the thought the injury was long-term. It would devastate the Royals’ chances of making the playoffs. All this for a game that is meaningless except for national pride.

Yes, injury is a freak incident. But an injury is an injury and the Royals have a lot invested in Perez.

How about Seth Lugo of the New York Mets? Lugo has one of the best curves in the Majors and helped the Mets rally last year to make it to the Wildcard playoff game.I argue that the Mets had no chance to make the playoffs if not for the pitching of Robert Gsellman and Seth Lugo.

Lugo is a big strong kid from Louisiana with roots in Puerto Rico. Team Puerto Rico was fortunate to have Lugo as one of their starters. He pitched 5 1/2 strong innings against Venezuela allowing just one hit.

But upon returning to the Mets, Lugo complained of a tired arm. He was later diagnosed to have a slight tear of the ulnar collateral ligament. This is not good news for Lugo as he was fighting for the fifth spot in the Mets rotation. As of today, the Mets shut down Lugo for two weeks of rest missing the start of the regular season.

I hope Lugo recovers quickly. After all, Lugo has great ability to pitch, and I hate to think Lugo’s career is in jeopardy when an injury can be avoided.

I suggest if the WBC is to continue, it needs to look at the scheduling of the games. Consider replacing the Arizona League games for the WBC games and play the games in a warmer climate or in dome stadiums after the Major League Baseball regular season ends. If the other countries of the world have a conflict because of different seasons, then you take a break and resume play the title game during Spring Training.

Also, expand the rosters. Allow for more pitchers. In the era of pitch counts and Tommy John surgeries, it makes sense to save a pitcher’s arm. To me, Seth Lugo was overused and his pride to pitch for Team Puerto Rico may have caused the injury. The intangibles saber-metrics cannot record, dependability, pride, the will to win, can push a pitcher to do more than what he is expected to do during Spring Training.

Noah Syndergaard said he won’t play in the WBC it won’t help him get the World Series championship, I agree. You can only take national loyalty so far.

Avoid injuries so players can play on Opening Day.

Joe is an avid fan of sports. He enjoys engaging in good conversation about topics of interest. He seeks knowledge that is applicable to the betterment and growth of my life and the lives of others. Born and raised in New York, Joe loves watching and rooting for the New York Mets.

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