Despite what some of you may have heard, there has yet to be any decision by Adrian Beltre on whether or not he’ll participate in the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic does have him listed on their roster, but that was just a precaution in case he does decide to play. They had to be set by 3 p.m. Pacific time today and had Beltre been left off, he could not have been added later.
Meanwhile, Ichiro helped Japan today in an 8-2 exhibition rout of a Ryan Rowland-Smith-less squad from Australia. Ichiro went 1-for-4 with an infield single and a run scored.
Some of you want to make Beltre’s WBC choice into a team leadership issue. Just as some of you want to make Ichiro’s choice to play for Japan into a leadership issue. I think they both have a right to play for their countries. If anyone should be questioning their decisions to play, it’s the Mariners who did not perform last year and have plenty to prove. Ichiro and Beltre were the team’s two best players.
And as long as Kenji Johjima, Carlos Silva and others who did not earn their paychecks last year are allowed to play, I don’t see any reason why Beltre should balk over team leadership questions. Put yourself in Beltre’s shoes. He’s been told that the team doesn’t want him to play because of the injuries he played through last season. But he played through them rather well, other than some hitting slumps at times.
Imagine you’re Beltre and hearing this. Then, you look and see Silva, who suffered through back pain a good part of last season and had a terrible year. He’s off to the WBC.
You see Johjima, a guy who is fortunate to still have a major league job, let alone a three-year contract extension. He’s blocking a bunch of young catchers on the Mariners right now and no one knows if he’ll make it through the season as the No. 1 guy in Seattle. He’s playing in the WBC.
And there’s Ichiro. Like Beltre, he was one of the team’s top players last year. Like Beltre, he played through injury last year. His hamstring was so bad, he declined to paqrticipate in the All-Star Game’s Home Run Derby. Several teammates felt — and I agree with them — that his hamstring troubles made it difficult to get to balls in the corner and the gaps that I’d seen him get to in previous years. Also that it’s a reason he didn’t steal as many bases after the first two months of the season. But he’s off to the WBC.
Granted, he isn’t coming off surgery. But hurt your hamstring once and — as any athlete can tell you — problems can linger for years. The team doesn’t seem all that concerned that he’s playing in the WBC.
We can argue for hours that Beltre’s surgery is more serious than an injury not requiring surgery and go on and on.
But if you really try to look at things from Beltre’s point of view, he has to be wondering why he should be the lone guy to stay behind. I’m sure that’s exactly what’s running through his mind right now,
I’m not going to make this about leadership. Those other guys left to the WBC and I didn’t say a word about it reflecting on their leadership abilities.
But those of you who want to make this about leadership, I want to hear your take about why Beltre should have to stay in Seattle’s camp while Silva, Ichiro and Johjima get to play for their countries. Not sure I get your point.
By the way, if you missed Geoff Baker Live! this morning, we’ve managed to get the recording improved somehow today and there should be no problems with it. Be sure to check for an impromptu visit from Josh Fields in the 39th minute and Jack Zduriencik in the 49th. We had some fun today.