With six players in the organization set to participate in the World Baseball Classic, there is a fair chunk of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ projected 25-man roster who will be away from the team for a few weeks during Spring Training in 2013.
But, that list won’t include Melky Cabrera and Esmil Rogers, who have both declined the opportunity to play in the tournament for the Dominican Republic squad.
The news of the players’ withdrawal surfaced on Saturday, with John Lott of the National Post getting the first word and conformation from Alex Anthopoulos on the matter. As the team GM states, the reason for Cabrera and Rogers’ decision came down to their need to “to be in camp with their new team.”
Though I’m of the school of thought that MLB players should participate in this tournament for the kick start to competitive baseball that it provides, there are probably good reasons for both players’ decisions outside of the fact that they’re new members of the Blue Jays. Rogers had a great run with the Cleveland Indians (after blowing up in Colorado early) in 2012, but he is just one year removed from a 2011 season that saw the former starter miss nearly three months with a lat injury.
Considering the ineffectiveness that has plagued him outside of the 53-inning run in Cleveland, it’ll be imperative for Rogers (even if he’s a lock to make the team) to show that he has truly turned a corner as a reliever, and disruptions to his preparation process by playing for a competitive tournament may hinder that.
For Cabrera, he has to prove the breakout seasons he had over the last two seasons were not direct results of the PEDs which got him suspended, and spending more time with his new teammates over Spring Training may well help his transition into the Blue Jays clubhouse and the issue of getting on the right side of his teammates in his post-suspension days.
That’s not to say that folks in the clubhouse will necessarily have a problem with the team’s new left fielder for his suspension history, but that he was caught is something that will have to be addressed early, especially considering the late-season hoopla that centered around unaddressed issues with the Blue Jays in 2012.
Understandably, Cabrera and Rogers’ decisions have some fans of the Dominican Republic squad feeling a little jilted:
@lottonbaseball In DR we’re upset w/ some players because of their lack of patriotism; and w/ MLB and teams due to their weak support to WBC
— Alnardo Diaz (@AlnardoDiaz) February 3, 2013
That said, they may ultimately end up being positive decisions for both players’ quests to win a pennant with the Toronto Blue Jays in 2013.