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February 24, 2009 at 8:52 AM

Beltre urged away from WBC

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Don’t forget to tune in for Geoff Baker Live! coming up at 10 a.m. We will try to make an MP3 podcast out of it for those of you having problems with the video upload. As for the recorded video version, our tekkies are still working on it. As I said, my job is to cover baseball. I leave the technical stuff to the folks more expert on that.

A look above at Mariners players heading to their dugouts for the start of this morning’s intra squad game. An early day today since the team has a golf tournament in the early afternoon.
Adrian Beltre met yesterday with manager Don Wakamatsu and was told, in no uncertain terms, that the team does not want him participating in the World Baseball Classic. Beltre has to make a decision later today because roster lists are due out in the afternoon. WBC training camps open next Monday.
“We’ve taken the stance all along that we’re not going to make the decision for them,” Wakamatsu said. “We’re going to obviously give him our opinion and what we think. And we discouraged him. In the fact, from a health standdpoint, just make sure you’re 100 percent. And I think that’s what his decision is right now, He feels awfully good and…he’s judging whether it’s going to help him or hurt him.”
Beltre has already met with Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik and been told the team’s position. Wakamatsu said he prefaced his own meeting with Beltre by telling him its his decision to make, and to make sure he takes his health into consideration with adequate severity.
“I would prefer that he stays in camp, again just because of the injuries he had last year,” Wakamatsu said. “I think it’s important for him to be able to take it a little bit slower.”
With some players, the added pressure of knowing the team’s decision might be too much to bear. I doubt it’s going to impact Beltre all that much. Frankly, I’d be surprised if Beltre pulls out of the WBC. After all, he knows he’s likely to be traded by the July 31 deadline. It’s a fact of his contract situation. Beltre also knows that this team desperately needs him. He’s arguably the best all-around player on this team, along with Ichiro. It’s not like the M’s have anyone to take his place.
It’s still possible, of course, that Beltre could be guilted into not going. Perhaps out of a sense of not putting the team at risk by going out there still recovering from old injuries. But he says he feels fine. Wakamatsu says the dialogue yesterday was cordial and very low pressure. No animosity. If that’s truly the case, that he’s healthy and the pressure was slight, I see him going to the tournament. His contract is guaranteed. If the M’s are slightly disappointed, they’ll get over it.
Wakamatsu said Ryan Rowland-Smith made a “noble” decision to skip the WBC and focus on competing for a starting job. But Beltre isn’t competing for anything.
No further word on Wladimir Balentien and his visa problems yet, The team is now saying Wednesday or Thursday — maybe. This is getting serious for him. He’s already missed a week.
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