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On March 7, 2017, The World Baseball Classic (“WBC”) will begin in Tokyo, Japan and Seoul, South Korea as teams representing countries from around the world compete for honor and country. From March 7 through March 22 the tournament spreads from the first two cities to Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Guadalajara, Mexico. The average baseball fan does not pay too much attention to the WBC as the tournament does not get the same media hype and publicity as many other international events. The viewership for the WBC classic has been hurt in previous years because many of the game’s top players (who happen to play in the MLB) choose to not attend and focus on their MLB teams at spring training. However, this year, there has been a great turnout for MLB players and the WBC promises to bring exciting games. Several White Sox players have chosen to miss a period of spring training in order to represent their country.

For Team USA, Nate Jones and David Roberston have both announced they will be attending the WBC. Both veterans, Jones and Robertson do not have the same expectations to attend spring training and improve their game that many younger players or minor league players may have. Furthermore, when your country calls, it can be hard to turn it down. “It’s not every day do you get a call from Joe Torre and Jim Leyland,” Jones said. “That was a pretty cool experience.” (Torre and Leyland are coaching the USA team this year). According to Dan Hayes, of CSN Chicago, Don Cooper plans to work with Nate Jones during the February session of Spring Training in order to have him ready to go, not just for the WBC, but also for the White Sox once he returns. Jones has already thrown six bullpens and has two more scheduled before he heads to Arizona to begin spring training. David Robertson is a proven winner who does not need the rigor of spring training to the same degree as even Nate Jones. Robertson will bring a steady veteran presence to a Team USA staff that features Jones, Marcus Stroman, Mychal Givens, Danny Duffy, and Chris Archer to name a few. Team USA will start the tournament in Miami with Pool C. Other countries in Pool C are Canada, Columbia, and the Dominican Republic.

Miguel Gonzalez turned down an offer to pitch for Team Mexico in 2013 but this year he will be lacing up his cleats in the WBC and will represent his country and the White Sox. If Gonzalez was expecting to have to compete for a rotation spot he might have felt differently about missing time in spring training, but the Sox gave him a contract for 2017 and he is expected to be the fourth or fifth starter in the regular rotation. “It’s gonna happen,” Gonzalez said. “I’m looking forward to this day to come.” Gonzalez  is one of the older pitchers on Team Mexico but Mexico is going to have to rely on their pitchers if they plan to make some waves in the tournament this year. The position players on the roster leave something to be desired but the pitching staff includes Gonzalez, Roberto Ozuna, Sergio Romo, Joakim Soria, and Yovani Gallardo. Team Mexico will start the tournament in Guadalajara with Pool D. Other countries in Pool D are Italy, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela.

Jose Quintana will be pitching for Team Columbia in Pool C, competing against Team USA in the first round. Nate Jones is already getting the trash talking started. “I done told him, ‘Hey, you’re going down,’ ” Jones said. Quintana figures to be the ace on Team Columbia, creating an intimidating 1-2 punch with Julio Teherán of the Atlanta Braves as they are the only major league pitchers on the roster. Team Columbia lacks name recognition as most of their players either play in Columbia or are in the minors in the US. However, Quintana will be playing competitive baseball a month earlier than usual, giving scouts for MLB teams more opportunity to evaluate him and decide the value they put on him. More opportunities for Quintana to show off his stuff means more phone calls to Rick Hahn asking his what his price is once the trade deadline comes around. The same can be said about David Robertson as he is coming back from off season surgery and teams will want to know what his health is like going forward.

The last White Sox player on a roster is Alex Katz. Katz was drafted by the Sox in the 27th round of the 2015 draft and he will be competing with Team Israel at the WBC. Team Israel is in Pool B and will be competing against South Kora, The Netherlands, and Chinese Taipai in Seoul, South Korea. In 2016, he pitched for the Kannapolis Intimidators of the Class A South Atlantic League, and the Winston-Salem Dash of the A+ Carolina League. He was a combined 0-1 with a 3.27 ERA and 2 saves, and in 55 innings he struck out 57. While the WBC is not as well received by MLB fans as it should be, it will still feature many of the stars we follow everyday during the regular season. At the end of the day, competitive baseball one month earlier than expected is something any baseball fan can get behind.

One Comment

  1. Sam

    February 9, 2017 at 3:23 PM

    WBC is underrated. Earlier baseball plus playing for home and country.

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