New York Mets closer Edwin Díaz injured his right knee and may be out for the year. Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve has a fractured right thumb and will need surgery. The first injury happened during a World Baseball Classic postgame celebration and the second during a WBC game.
Those are two key players that will miss significant portions of the coming season – maybe most or all of it – and both were injured as a result of taking part in the WBC.
No doubt fans of those teams may not be that excited about the WBC moving forward. In the game where Altuve got hit by a pitch on Saturday night, the Orioles' Anthony Santander followed him in the batting order and it could have been him that was hit and injured but luckily for the Orioles, he was not.
Despite these injuries, the WBC has been great to watch this year.
It’s great to see the talent around the world in the sport of baseball and more importantly the passion for the sport around the world. The crowds and the cheering and the TV ratings outside of the United States show us how much fans and players alike care about this event. It is a huge deal, maybe more so than it is here.
But when was the last time we saw Mike Trout with the passion and fire he showed both during and after the Team USA win over Venezuela. The fact that Trout wanted to play this year shows us that more top talent from the USA wants to play in this event. The WBC has grown over time and the event has become so fun to watch.
I am all for the continuation of the WBC – even though we know the injury risk. That same risk is there for a spring training game or even a spring training workout. Players get hurt, in many different circumstances. We can’t eliminate the injury risk in the game ever. I wish we could.
Watching the crowd and bench reaction to Trea Turner's grand slam was special on Saturday night. It was a great moment.
Said Team USA catcher J.T. Realmuto to reporters after Saturday’s win: “I can’t believe anybody would rather stay in spring training than play in a game like that. So much pride on the line. So much fun. It was clear to both teams how much that game meant.”
As a big baseball guy I feel pride in the event too, especially when we realize that the NFL cannot duplicate anything like this.
The next question is when to play this event and March is about the only time it fits, in my opinion. No way MLB players will want to extend the season beyond the end of the World Series. And it would take those players who were not in the playoffs some time to ramp back up. This just doesn’t work.
The only other possibility would be having an extended All-Star break. That could work except you need about 10 days for this event, maybe a few more and now teams only get three or four days off. And players participating would not have an All-Star break at all to refresh. Again players not playing would need some time to ramp back up. This timing very likely doesn’t work either.
The current timeline is about the best we can do. Yes players have to ramp up a bit early and play in big games in mid March. But they seem to be handling it just fine now and several of these players look in mid-season form.
The WBC has produced pride for country, passion by players and fans alike and some entertaining baseball.
Double win: After winning two split-squad games Sunday afternoon, the Orioles are 12-10-2 in spring games with eight remaining. They beat the Pirates 8-0 in Sarasota and beat right-hander Gerrit Cole and the Yankees 5-3 in Tampa.
In the home game, Kyle Gibson threw five scoreless innings on three hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He seems destined to get the Opening Day start and his spring ERA is down to 1.29. Adley Rutschman and Heston Kjerstad hit two-run homers.
In Tampa, the Orioles scored four runs off Cole in the fifth on Anthony Bemboom's three-run homer and Kyle Stowers' RBI double. Collin Burns added a run-scoring single. Tyler Wells allowed one run over 3 2/3 innings and Spenser Watkins gave up two runs (one earned) over four innings.
Baltimore is 6-1 in its last seven spring games, scoring 49 runs.
And Team USA advances: Team USA routed Cuba 14-2 last night in the WBC semifinals. The US squad will play Tuesday night for the championship against the winner of tonight's Japan-Mexico game.
Trea Turner hit two more homers for the USA and drove in four runs. The Orioles' Cedric Mullins finally got on the field again as a pinch-runner in the last of the sixth. In his only at-bat in the eighth, he homered.
Click here to see Mullin's big fly.