CLEARWATER, Fla. — Freddy Galvis has decided not to play in the World Baseball Classic. He had been projected to start at shortstop for his native Venezuela.
“It was a tough decision,” Galvis said in the Phillies’ spring-training clubhouse on Wednesday morning.
Galvis, 27, cited “tightness” in his groin muscle as his reason for pulling out of the tournament, which begins in early March. He said he felt the tightness playing in the Caribbean World Series earlier this month.
“Everybody wants to play for his country but sometimes you have to understand it’s going to be a long season and I don’t want to force my body,” Galvis said.
General manager Matt Klentak said he was not overly concerned about the tightness in Galvis' groin.
"I don't think it's going to be a big deal," he said.
Galvis’ decision to skip the WBC certainly won’t disappoint a Phillies organization that wants him to work on improving his on-base skills this spring. Galvis hit 20 homers and was a finalist for a Gold Glove last season, but his .274 on-base percentage was the worst in the majors. Galvis said improving that mark was “at the top of my list.”
"I’m fine with any of our players that want to stay here," Klentak said. "I support them if they want to play in the WBC; I think the WBC is a great baseball initiative that helps to promote the game throughout the world, I think it’s great. Selfishly, for the Phillies, I’m happy when they’re here. As far as what Freddy was going to do, if he wanted to play and represent his country and be with his teammates and play competitive baseball there, we would have been totally supportive of that. But if he’s here, we’re not going to complain."
Can staying in camp and working with new Phillies hitting coach Matt Stairs help Galvis?
“I think I can have the same preparation playing in the WBC, especially if you’re playing with guys like Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve and your manager is Omar Vizquel," Galvis said. "So I think it’s a good situation if I play (in the WBC), but I think if I stay here, too, I’m going to have a chance to get more work and do what I need to do. I think spring training is not about numbers, it’s about getting ready for the season.”
Galvis will need to improve his on-base skills to hold off top prospect J.P. Crawford, who could be ready to step in at shortstop in a year. It’s still possible that Galvis could move to second base in the future with the Phillies trying to capitalize on Cesar Hernandez's trade value.
All of this will play out in time. For now, Galvis is out of the WBC. Alcides Escobar will probably play shortstop for Venezuela.