The 2013 Spring Training schedule has encountered its first major shift, as several players in the Milwaukee Brewers roster are making their way to their respective National squads to compete in the World Baseball Classic.
If you didn’t have a dog in the WBC fight, you probably will now.
But outside of being able to cheer on your favorite Milwaukee Brewers stars, the temporary exodus of talent has obvious ramifications for the team that they leave behind.
Right now, there’s not a whole lot happening that would be any different thanks to the fact that the Milwaukee Brewers roster reads like a hospital register.
Yovani Gallardo may not make his opening start in the World Baseball Classic, thanks to a groin strain he suffered last week. The ace for Team Mexico has been dealt with cautiously by the Brewers to begin with – in part to make sure that he can be ready and useful to his team in the Classic, and also because we aren’t in the area of Spring Training where you can let your starters really open up.
There is, of course, no shortage of irony in the fact that the easy fodder of detractors to the World Baseball Classic is about “what-if” questions regarding their favorite stars getting injured during the tournament. And here we are, sending our walking wounded out into the tournament with “day-to-day” hung on their collars.
Among the injured Brewers limping out to the world’s stage is Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, who got banged up taking a foul ball to the knee which caused him to sit out Saturday’s game. Aramis Ramirez suffered a similar fate to his knee by sliding into second on a bloop double.
Usually the Brewers don’t run into bumps and bruises until April or May, so it’s
easy to find these minor injuries (and they do all appear to be minor) disconcerting going into the meat of Spring Training. Adding the fact that the team’s staff can no longer keep an eye on many of these payers thanks to the World Baseball Classic does little to ease the concern of many fans.
But the truth is, there are many more positives to take away from the players leaving for the World Baseball Classic. For one, players like Ryan Braun have the opportunity to play early and often in real game situations – Yovani Gallardo will get to work through full starts. Younger players like Martin Maldonado and Hiram Burgos get to show their stuff on a bigger stage.
In concert with these developments is an increase in the looks fans and coaches get to see from younger players on the Milwaukee Brewers Spring Training roster. These young players now have a legitimate opportunity to impress the Brewers during Cactus League play. We get to watch the future of the team in real-time, while at the same time watching our current stars vie for a tournament championship that is becoming increasingly more important to the development of the game internationally.
We could argue all day about the pros and cons of Major League players playing in the World Baseball Classic – you can bring up injuries or crises of confidence or whatever you like – but the fact of the matter is that we’ve seen injuries in Spring Training already. We’ve seen all the concerns play out before the World Baseball Classic has even begun and we’ve seen these things happen on every off-year of the tournament.
So you can be a detractor all you want, but I’m going to be cheering when Ryan Braun goes to the plate, or when John Axford goes to the mound. Because our players and our country performing well on an international stage means every bit as much to me as a strong one inning outing in early March.