As the February 20th deadline for final World Baseball Classic rosters approaches, the Dominican Republic is seeing its top players withdraw from the tournament at a speeding rate. Reports have surfaced that the team will be without Milwaukee Brewers center fielder Carlos Gomez. Also, the team will be without Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre for the first round of the tournament.
The loss of Gomez is a huge blow to the Dominican squad. The team was already down to just two outfielders after Toronto Blue Jays projected left fielder Melky Cabrera withdrew from the tournament in the first week of February. The team is down to just one natural outfielder, Nelson Cruz of the Rangers. Of the remaining players on the provisional roster, only Erick Aybar of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and Edwin Encarnacion of the Blue Jays have any experience playing the outfield. Aybar has played eight games in the outfield during his seven seasons with the Angels while Encarnacion has played three games in the outfield, all of them last season with the Blue Jays.
Meanwhile, the loss of Beltre should not hurt the Dominican Team too much. The team still has Hanley Ramirez of the Los Angeles Dodgers who can play third base. Last season, he played in 90 games as a third baseman for the Miami Marlins to accommodate the addition of shortstop Jose Reyes. When he was traded to the Dodgers, he returned to his natural position of shortstop but still played in eight games at the hot corner for Los Angeles.