After the IOC have decided to exclude Baseball from the Summer Olympics Games, World Baseball Classic (WBC) become the only international tournament that baseball players can represent their country as athletes. For this reason, a lot of baseball players become extremely eager to play and win at WBC. On the other hand, mangers and coaches in MLB are reluctant to send their athletes to the tournament, because they have seen athletes return from WBC with injuries, or predisposition to injuries and get injured early in the season.
The WBC tournament ends almost right before the start of MLB season. This year, WBC started in March 6 and it will go all the way up to March 22. The problem with this is that MLB season will begin on April 2 which give the athletes less than 2 weeks to recover. During Spring, athletes go easy during training and games, so that they can enter the season as healthy as possible. However, during WBC tournaments, athletes compete at their highest capacity, pitching as hard and fast as possible. This often results in overstressing the shoulders of pitchers and make them more vulnerable to injuries when the season starts. Due to this fear of injury, a lot of tier 1, star players choose not to compete at WBC. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons admits that most MLB coaches and managers do not want their athletes to participate in WBC. Some of the top name pitchers who were injured during the early season after participating in the WBC tournament include Edinson Volquez, Jake Peavy, Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Scot Shields. These are only few of the many. It is difficult to identify how much participating in WBC affects the health of the athletes. It would depend on the number of pitches and the current health of the athletes’ shoulders.
To include top MLB players in WBC and to protect the athletes, there must be a bigger gap between the tournament and MLB season. Even a gap of about 6 weeks would give the athletes some time to recover from WBC and significantly decrease the injury rates. Perhaps, this would encourage more top MLB players to join Team USA at WBC. If this happens, Americans may dominate the game despite never winning a medal in the previous WBC tournaments.
AP News. 2017. A WBC tradition _ MLB teams worry about players getting hurt. Retrieved from https://apnews.com/