Continuing the countdown to spring training, it’s only five days until pitchers and catchers report, 15 days until the first game, and 53 days until opening day. We’re almost there, folks! Here’s the latest:
National teams involved in the World Baseball Classic announced their full rosters last night, with the notable omission of Russell Martin from Team Canada. Martin, per Jon Morosi, will not play for Canada due to his contract insurance, presumably related to the fact that Martin wanted to play second base.
Russell Martin will not play for Team Canada in the WBC due to not being cleared for contract insurance.— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) February 9, 2017
Seven other Blue Jays will be involved in the March classic. J.A. Happ and Marcus Stroman will play for Team USA, Marco Estrada and Roberto Osuna will play for Team Mexico, Jose Bautista will play for Team Dominican Republic, Dalton Pompey will play for Team Canada and Jordan Romano, a Blue Jay prospect, will play for Team Italy.
MLB has implemented a new set of rules to increase the pace of action in Rookie Ball, the lowest level of professional baseball. This rule will place a runner at second base to start every inning from the 10th onward, a rule already being observed in most international professional leagues. The rule will be put into action first in the 2017 WBC.
Personally, I’m on the fence about this rule. Initially, my reaction was totally negative, but, after about 15 hours to think about it, I’m no longer strongly opposed to it. As Joe Torre puts it, “It’s not fun to watch when you go through your whole pitching staff and wind up bringing a utility infielder in to pitch. As much as it’s nice to talk about being at an 18-inning game, it takes time.”
Now, I disagree partly with that statement - it is very fun to watch a utility infielder pitch. However, increasing the pace of action in extra-inning games would be entertaining.
Craig Breslow, a free agent reliever once on Toronto’s radar, has signed with the Minnesota Twins. The Blue Jays attended Breslow’s workout last month, where he “opened eyes” with a new delivery. Although, earlier, Breslow was an immediate need, the Blue Jays have now signed both J.P. Howell and Joe Smith, who fill the position that Breslow would.