Let’s hope that the Venezuelans have enough bubble wrap for the Detroit Tigers who will be playing on their team in the World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Martinez will be joining Omar Vizquel, who has been tapped to be the manager for the team that will be loaded with All-Stars from the MLB.
Rumor has it that Martinez will be joined by fellow Tigers Miguel Cabrera, Francisco Rodriguez, and possible Bruce Rondon and/or Anibal Sanchez. So far, Cabrera and V-Mart have officially confirmed their spots on the roster.
But, Those Knees
It’s all well-and-good that so many Tigers want to play for their home country in the games that only occur every four years. But, the fact that Victor Martinez is so fragile is serious cause for concern. He turns 38 on December 23 and it is no secret that his knees act like they are at least ten years older.
The WBC games occur during the heart of Spring Training between March 7 and March 22. While the men who play for their home countries will be involved in training and game playing, it is different than playing for the team that pays them. And in the case of Martinez and Cabrera, the Tigers really do pay them.
Injuries in the WBC Differ from Those in the MLB
So, if either man returns from the WBC injured, there will be some seriously angry Tigers coaches and teammates, as well as fans. Injuries in the regular season are another story – because they occur on “company time.”
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Martinez and Cabrera are everyday players on the Tigers roster and playing the WBC will increase their time on the field. While the first Spring Training game in Lakeland is on February 23 against Florida Southern College, there is a difference between the WBC games and the MLB Spring Training contests. In most games, players like Cabrera and Martinez only play for a few innings. And, they do not play at their fullest ability. They might get one or two at-bats – and usually by the second one, a pinch runner comes in – at least for Martinez.
Cabrera and Martinez will be playing with intensity when Venezuela opens against Puerto Rico in Jalisco, Mexico. There is home-country pride on the line, not just a little Spring Training win.
At age 38, Martinez will most likely not play in the next series four years from now. It is understandable why he would want to play. But, there is so much at risk by choosing to play in the WBC. Detroit needs his big bat and they need his knees, much more than Venezuela does. The WBC does use a DH, so there is no worry that Martinez will be catching or playing a base. Despite this subtle bit of reassurance, I still want him wrapped in bubble wrap – especially his knees. Or…maybe his flight can be delayed (for a few weeks)?