Bruce Chen Should Not Pitch in World Baseball Classic

Bruce Chen Kansas City Royals

John Rieger – US Presswire

It looks like Bruce Chen will pitch for Team China in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. This has not been completely confirmed yet, but he is on the provisional roster and has expressed an interest in playing.

But that would not be a good idea for him. He was the Opening Day starter for the Kansas City Royals in 2012, but the winter additions mean that now he is at best going to be the fifth starter. But that is not a guarantee; the Royals have re-signed Luke Hochevar for next year and he will put up stiff competition for the fifth starter role. So the last thing Chen should be doing with a fight on for a spot in the rotation is missing a fair bit of Spring Training to play in a meaningless, made up competition.

The World Baseball Classic is an utter farce. There is a reason baseball is no longer played at the Olympics; it simply isn’t an international sport. There is no reason any player who has something to prove in Spring Training should be wasting time with a tournament that means nothing already and is timed in such a way as to be utterly irrelevant. By playing for China, Chen is handing the initiative to Hochevar in their battle for the fifth spot in the rotation and although Hochevar has been famously inconsistent, he will have a golden opportunity to relegate Chen to a sixth-starter role without Chen even getting a word in to defend himself.

It goes without saying that it is not the best thing for Chen, but it is also not the best thing for the Royals. The management needs to see everyone playing and to make the best choice of the starting pitcher. They do not need Chen mucking about in a Mickey Mouse tournament.

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