On March 2nd, the first pitch will be thrown in Japan to open the 2013 and third ever World Baseball Classic. Third baseman David Wright will be the Mets lone representative in the tournament. He will be making his second consecutive start for Team USA. Wright did not play in the inaugural 2006 Classic. However in 2009, his game winning two rbi single in extra innings against Puerto Rico advanced Team USA into the semi-final round. He played eight tournament games. In thirty two at-bats he hit safely nine times with one double, and posted a .281 batting average. David also walked three times en route to a .333 OBP. He scored three times, and drove in five runs.
Panama did not qualify for this year’s Classic. Otherwise, Ruben Tejada intended to play for his native country. Likewise, Israel did not qualify which means Ike Davis will safely stay in Florida this March. Both Kirk Nieuwenhuis and Mets farm hand Matt den Dekker are of Dutch descent. But Team Netherlands have yet to extend them considerations.
Johan Santana would like to represent his native country as he did in 2006, and play for Team Venezuela again in the Classic. But he may not be granted the opportunity. Unfortunately for Johan and Venezuela, the pitcher is currently ineligible to play because of his time spent on the 2012 disabled list. In order to participate, he must gain medical clearance first. As Adam Rubin explains in detail, the WBC must insure MLB player’s contracts in the event of injury during the tournament.
In a recent interview, GM Sandy Alderson had few comments with regard to Johan’s want for pitching in this year’s Classic. He reiterated Johan was indeed ineligible. Then again, Alderson also reminded Mets fans the reason Santana’s 2012 season was prematurely shut down involved fatigue, and was not due to injury, or a recurrence of shoulder trouble. Most are well aware of the love and dedication Johan Santana has for his home country. That said, I am sure he will continue to respectfully work with the Mets, but still press the issue. His participation resonates on a national level. During the interview, the Mets GM only made slight mention that Johan is in the final year of his contract which includes a 2014 buyout.
Another pitcher of note, the 2012 National League Cy Young award winner and former Mets favorite, R.A. Dickey will rejoin forces with David Wright, and see if together they can help Team USA break Japan’s stranglehold on the Classic.
David Wright will also serve together with his former manager, Willie Randolph, who will be a team coach. Then both will serve under one time Mets manager, Joe Torre, who will skipper the 2013 squad. Yet another former Mets manager, Davey Johnson guided Team USA in the 2009 Classic.