By Mike Steffanos
In his "blog" on ESPN Insider, Peter Gammons discusses the pressure players from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela are feeling to play in the World Baseball Classic:
Melvin Mora took so much battering from the Venezuelan media for pulling out of the World Baseball Classic that Magglio Ordonez was afraid to not play. Now even Pedro Martinez is taking heat in the Dominican Republic, and he can't even throw batting practice.
"Someone wrote, 'How could someone from Montaguayabo forget his country because of a toe?'" says Manny Acta, manager of the Dominican team and a Mets coach. "There is a lot of pressure on these players. People care that much. No one wanted to play in this tournament more than Pedro. No one cares about his country more than he does. But he cannot pitch right now."
I'm sure Bud Selig would try to downplay this, but to me this is a serious flaw in the WBC. Sure, American players aren't under any pressure to compete in this thing, but players from Latin America and Asia aren't as fortunate. Selig can argue all he wants that playing in the WBC won't be substantially different then playing in a normal spring training, but this is disingenuous on his part. Selig was not only fully aware of the pressure players would be under, to my mind he counted on it. He knew the pressure from their countrymen would ensure plenty of superstars for this tournament.
When a big name player gets hurt in this tournament, it's sure to be pointed out that big names go down in spring training every year. While that is certainly true, you can be sure that a player that feels some hamstring tightness or similar discomfort wouldn't think twice about sitting out a few grapefruit league games -- but it will be a different story if he is a Dominican, Venezuelan or Japanese player in the WBC. If Dominicans are unwilling to accept Pedro's well-documented toe injury, how much slack will they give to a star with the aforementioned tight hammy?
You can try to gloss over this all you want, but if some players are in this tournament with a proverbial gun pressed firmly against their heads, and one of them gets hurt, you have another very good reason why this tournament is a bad idea.
Mets.com: Marty's Bag
Marty Noble has a new Mailbag on Mets.com. Today's highlight is regarding the possibility of trading for Alfonso Soriano:
From what I can see, the club considers Soriano somewhat one-dimensional and rather selfish. Witness his reluctance to play the outfield. He strikes out too much for the Mets' purposes, and even though he was a productive hitter in Yankee Stadium, Shea Stadium has been known to erode player's slugging percentage. He's expensive, and -- this can't be said enough -- he's not a quality second baseman.
It's no secret that Marty's not a Soriano fan. To me, Soriano would be a huge mistake. I'm not sure who the Nationals would want for Soriano, but it seems likely they'd look for at least one top talent to save face. Then the Mets would have to tie up a ton of salary to keep Soriano. His offense would be diminished by Shea stadium; his defense would be even more exposed because Delgado isn't a good fielder. Every ball hit to that side of the infield would be an adventure. This deal makes no sense for the Mets. For the money you'd pay Soriano you could sign a top pitcher next year.
Noble also has interesting answers about David Wright's salary and Pedro's toe problems. Check 'em out.
Mets.com: Better Day for the Mets
Marty Noble reports on the Mets grapefruit league victory against the Indians. A day after splitting the squad and getting mauled by the Dodgers, the Mets got 3 innings from Tom Glavine and a home run by Cliff Floyd to win 6-3.
Glavine got touched up for a run on 4 hits in his outing. Jose Lima followed and didn't fare as well, giving up 2 runs on 4 hits in 2-2/3 innings. Bartolome Fortunato,Mike Venafro and Henry Owens followed with scoreless innings.
Victor Diaz, Jeff Keppinger and Sandy Martinez had 2 hit games for the Mets, while Chris Woodward drove in a pair of runs. Steve Trachsel will start tomorrow's game against the Astros in Port St. Lucie.
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