By now if you aren’t aware that the World Baseball Classic is about to start, you really need to watch more sports television. It is just around the corner with the national teams playing exhibitions against various Major League Baseball teams this week. Cincinnati Reds star first baseman Joey Votto was unclear until recently whether or not he was playing for Team Canada in the WBC but now it has come out that he will play. Is that wise after his season was shortened by knee surgery in 2012?
Before we rush to judge either way on this question we should weigh the factors on both sides. First of all it could be argued that it is risky for any player to take part in the WBC because it risks injury so close to the start of the season. That is true of a player not coming off of knee surgery. For Votto it is even more risky. The knee was playable but nowhere near healthy at the end of the 2012 season. According to Votto the knee is one-hundred percent healthy going into the Classic and Dusty Baker says Votto wouldn’t lie about it.
On the other hand, Team Canada not having Joey Votto on the national team would be like an American political team that didn’t include Bill Clinton. It just wouldn’t make sense for the top Canadian ballplayer not to be on the team. Also to Votto’s credit, if he were planning on misleading his team on the health of his knee, he probably wouldn’t have waited so long to confirm his involvement. The fact that he waited until he could test the knee and be sure it was ready to go suggests that it is.
Either way Baker and the Reds are going to be watching the games with their eyes half covered. Votto is more their guy than he is Canada’s guy, obviously. While the knee appears to be healthy, he also has not played a full speed, full length game as of yet. Then again it could be argued that playing full games at speed this early might be good for the strength of Votto’s knee.
In the end the answer is up in the air honestly. If he were my first baseman I would suggest that he not play. If I am a Reds fan then I’m really nervous about him playing for anyone but the Reds after last season’s trouble. If I am a Team Canada fan, I am irritated that anyone would question the Joey Votto being on the team. We can hope for a healthy run for Votto and see what happens. I think Baker and the Reds will be rooting for an early exit for Team Canada.