Representing your country for any reason is a great honor. It usually means you’re one of the best of the best. So when the opportunity presents itself, you can’t pass it up, right?
Tell that to the Red Sox.
“A lot have guys have decided they don’t want to play, a lot have been invited to play,” Dave Dombrowski said. “For whatever reason, they’ve decided not to.”
Hanley Ramirez and Xander Bogaerts are the only players from the Red Sox Major League roster participating in the tournament, representing the Dominican Republic and the Netherlands, respectively. Two of Boston minor leaguers who spent 2016 in High A Salem, outfielder Mike Meyers (Israel) and left-handed pitcher Daniel McGrath (Austrailia), will also play in the tournament.
“We had a great run he last time we went,” Bogaerts said on his 2013 Netherlands team. “We won the [MLB] World Series that year. You never know what might happen.”
Dustin Pedroia and Craig Kimbrel have represented the United States in the past, but no American-born Red Sox player is on this year’s roster.
Eduardo Rodriguez and Pablo Sandoval were expected to initially play for Venezuela, but with Rodriguez’s injury and Sandoval needing to prove himself again, that wasn’t the best move for either.
But of course, the Red Sox have one of, if not the best front three starting pitchers entering the season.
“Knowing the pace I took Spring Training last year and the way I intend to take it this year, I’m not going to be prepared to pitch in those games,” Porcello said on not participating in the WBC. “I wouldn’t be doing the United States team any justice and the Boston Red Sox any justice by going out there and trying to pitch. Obviously it’ a huge honor to be able to play in that tournament, but my loyalty right now lies with the Red Sox.”
Price shares a similar feeling -- especially after a 2016 that he wasn’t pleased with.
“I want to be ready for the Red Sox,” he said. “I’d rather win a World Series than a WBC gold medal, or first place. For me, I’m devoted to this team.”
The lefty expressed a similar message to Joe Torre when he called Price about pitching for the 2017 squad.
“He called me right after the season ended and we had a very good talk about it,” Price said. “I was like, ‘I didn’t have the year I wanted to have last year in Boston.’ I wanted to make sure that I’m 100 percent ready to go on all cylinders whenever 2017 starts.
“I don’t view pitching in the WBC as something that’s going to be the right stepping stone for me to do that. I would have to completely change the program up in the offseason and do a lot of things a lot differently.”
For pitchers like Price with lucrative deals, or someone like Sandoval looking to earn a starting spot, participating in the tournament isn’t a logical decision, given it add to the wear and tear already put on from the grueling MLB schedule.
“It’s tough, I think it’s especially tough for pitchers,” Porcello said. “What’s the right amount to throw that time of year? You play after the season, guys already have a full season on their arms, position players have been grinding night-in, night-out. As much as I like the tournament and it’s awesome for countries to be able to compete like that, it’s really difficult to fit that in with a Major League schedule.”
Modifications to either the tournament or the league’s schedule down the road could change star-player involvement in the tournament.
Through time the tournament will develop it’s own level of prestige and maybe that’ll be enough to draw the heavily recruited players.
“Maybe if it was the Olympics, something along those lines it might be a little bit different,” Price said.