Buck Showalter concerned about Mets' participation in World Baseball Classic
Up to a dozen Mets, including the entire starting infield and at least three key pitchers, will participate in the World Baseball Classic next month, drawing them away from spring training and drawing at least some concern from manager Buck Showalter.
Among Showalter’s worries: Players potentially getting hurt, players playing intense games at earlier dates than usual, players not playing enough (and thus not getting what they need to be ready for the season).
“It’s good for the game, I’m told,” Showalter said at the annual Thurman Munson Awards Dinner in Manhattan on Tuesday night. “That’s the bottom line. It enhances our game globally and I support it, but I’m looking at it selfishly from what’s best for the New York Mets. We’re going to keep a close eye on it.”
In addition to Pete Alonso (United States), Jeff McNeil (United States), Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico) and Eduardo Escobar (Venezuela), the Mets also are sending a starting pitcher in Jose Quintana (Colombia) and at least two high-leverage relievers in closer Edwin Diaz (Puerto Rico) and Brooks Raley (United States). New catcher Omar Narvaez also will play for Venezuela.
“Escobar, it’s a big deal to him that he was asked. He wants to be a part of it,” Showalter said. “There’s nobody being forced to go.”
Adam Ottavino, who previously was announced as a definite U.S. participant, is a maybe, Showalter said.
Catcher Michael Perez, who will be in camp on a minor-league contract, likewise might suit up for Puerto Rico.
Starling Marte, who had surgery on a core muscle in November, probably won’t play for the Dominican Republic, according to Showalter, after previously intending to. And Brandon Nimmo won’t represent Italy (which he did in 2017).
Minor-league pitchers Cam Opp (Britain) and Claudio Scotti (Italy; born in Rome) also are set to play.
The WBC runs from March 8-21, but players will return as their teams get eliminated.
“The worst thing would be for someone to leave and go and not play at all,” Showalter said. “I voiced that to the managers. That’s fine. We’re excited and proud that they’re going. But they can’t come back being way behind.”
The Munson Awards Dinner — meant to honor people for their on-field excellence, community outreach and betterment of their sport — is a benefit for the AHRC New York City Foundation, which supports programs for local children and adults who have intellectual and developmental disabilities. The awards have been given out annually since Munson, the Yankees’ captain and catcher, died 43 years ago.
Among those honored Tuesday were Showalter, Mets centerfielder Brandon Nimmo (who accepted via a video message), Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka and golf great Annika Sorenstam.