UPDATE 10:00 a.m.: Wladimir Balentien has obtained his visa and is expected to arrive in Arizona tonight. He is scheduled to take a physical tomorrow and could be on the field for some workouts later in the day.
The Mariners have stepped in and made the decision for Adrian Beltre when it comes to his participating in the World Baseball Classic. Beltre was informed this morning that he will not be allowed to play for the Dominican Republic.
Mariners GM Jack Zduriencik told us moments ago that it’s a decision he tried not make, given how badly Beltre wanted to play in the WBC. But in the end, he said, he felt he had to step in and do what was best for the ballclub.
“If it was up to him, he’d be going,” Zduriencik said. “We need this player and we need this player badly to be a very competitive club this year.”
Beltre was obviously not happy about it. He and Zduriencik had a conversation two weeks ago, when camp began, to feel each other out on where they were leaning.
“We had an idea how we both felt,” Beltre said. “And from that conversation, I got that he wanted me to stay here but if I was going to go he was going to support that.
“I was trying to get ready and mentally, I was ready to go. And physically, yesterday I found out I was ready to go. But today, it’s a different story.”
Beltre does say he understands the team’s thinking.
“They’re looking out for me, they’re looking out for the team,” he said.
Zduriencik has allowed every other M’s player wishing to play in the tourney to do so. The M’s had stated that it would be totally up to the player, even though some, like Kenji Johjima and Carlos Silva, are coming off horrible seasons and need to re-establish themselves this year.
But Beltre had undergone multiple surgeries on his thumb and shoulder and the team was not convinced his playing at full speed right away is in his best interest.
“I just didn’t feel that everyone who’s dealt with him feels he’s 100 percent,” Zduriencik said, “He’s coming off three surgeries, two of them were considerable. This is a long spring training and we can bring him along slowly.”
Silva (talking with Beltre this morning in the photo above) will take the mound today against Barry Zito and the San Francisco Giants at Peoria Stadium. But Beltre, who was going to play to test himself ahead of the WBC, won’t be in today’s lineup as the team tries to ease him into games more slowly.
Beltre still feels he’s ready to play in the WBC right now.
“I was disappointed, because yesterday I basicly made up my mind that I was going to go,” he said. “Because I swung the bat, didn’t feel any pain or anything.”
Beltre was so confident about what he was going to do, that he moved out of the apartment he’d been leasing for spring training.
“Now, I have no place to live,” he said, with a smile. “I’m going to show up wherever he (Zduriencik) lives and he’s going to have to get me a room.”
Zduriencik said the team would do everything in its power to make sure Beltre has a place to sleep.
“Knowing what’s inside of him and how hard he plays, it would be difficult for him not to do everything and give 100 percent of what he has,” Zduriencik said. “He understood and he was disappointed, but he was 100 percent professional.
“He’s cut from a different cloth and I would welcome a ton of Adrian Beltres on this ballclub.”
And apparently, do what it takes to keep them there. A big question now is how long the M’s will be able to keep Beltre around. He’s a free-agent after this season and — regardless of how diplomatic he’s being right now — this one has to hurt. Beltre kept reiterating this morning how he would have approached spring training differently had the M’s just made this decision two weeks ago.
Instead, they told him it was his call to make — apparently, it now seems, as long as he made the call they wanted. Instead, after he went 2-for-3 in his first spring training game yesterday, the team, correctly sensing he’d made his choice and was about to leave, pulled the plug on him.
The lineups for today’s game:
San Francisco Giants (1-2)
2 Randy Winn CF
8 Eugenio Velez 2B
14 Fred Lewis LF
48 Pablo Sandoval 3B
5 Travis Ishikawa 1B
33 Aaron Rowand DH
12 Nate Schierholtz CF
23 Juan Uribe SS
20 Steve Holm C
75 Barry Zito LHP
Seattle Mariners (1-0-1)
10 Endy Chavez LF
3 Ronny Cedeno 3B
30 Russell Branyan 1B
4 Jose Lopez 2B
9 Jeff Clement C
21 Franklin Gutierrez CF
59 Mike Carp DH
69 Greg Halman RF
1 Reegie Corona SS
52 Carlos Silva RHP