Chris Snelling - Bowman Chrome

Old friends in the World Baseball Classic

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Instead of complaining about the fact that Heath Bell and Willie Bloomquist are on Team USA’s provisional World Baseball Classic roster, I thought it might be more fun to highlight some ex-major leaguers dotting the rosters of other squads:

Australia

RHP Chris Oxspring (35) – Appeared in five games for Padres in 2005
LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith (30) – Effective Mariner in 2008-09 before getting hurt
1B Justin Huber (30) – Former top prospect hit .224, 2 HR in 161 AB
OF Chris Snelling (31) – Talented but never healthy, hit .244/.360/.400 in 225 AB

Italy

RHP Dan Serafini (39) – 15-16 with a 6.04 ERA from 1996-2007
RHP Brian Sweeney (39) – 3.38 in 73 appearances, the last coming in 2010

Japan

INF Kazuo Matsui (37) – Hit .267/.321/.380 in 7 seasons before returning home

Korea

RHP Jae Weong Seo (35) – 28-40, 4.60 ERA from 2002-2007

Mexico

INF Edgar Gonzalez (34) – Adrian’s older brother, teammate on 2008-09 Padres
OF Karim Garcia (37) – Unknown to Pedro Martinez, hit 66 big-league homers

Puerto Rico

RHP Dicky Gonzalez (34) – Quad-A pitcher has spent last 5 years in Japan
INF Luis Figueroa (39) – 2 AB in 2001, 9 in 2006, 5 in 2007
INF Andy Gonzalez (31) – Hit .185 in 67 games for White Sox in 2008

Chinese Taipei

LHP Hong-Chih Kuo (31) – 3.73 ERA, 345 strikeouts in 292 IP

Unfortunately, Colombia (Edgar Renteria and Jolbert Cabrera) and Panama (Ramiro Mendoza and Ruben Rivera) failed to make the final 16 for the WBC, so we’ll miss out on their vets.

Video: Nelson Cruz hits second-longest home run of 2016

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 14:  Nelson Cruz #23 of the Seattle Mariners celebrates his solo homerun with Daniel Vogelbach #20 of the Seattle Mariners to take a 2-1 lead over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim during the seventh inning at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 14, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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There’s certainly never a bad time to hit a home run, but when you get the opportunity to crush a triple-deck, 493-foot shot off of Tyler Duffey, you should take it. With the Mariners down 2-0 to the Twins in the fourth inning, Cruz hammered a fastball to deep left field for his 39th long ball of the season — and the second-longest home run hit in 2016, to boot.

It doesn’t hurt that the Mariners are 1.5 games back of a playoff spot, although they’ll have to oust the Blue Jays, Orioles, or Tigers to get a wild card. They’ve gone 3-3 in the last week, dropping two consecutive series to the Astros and Blue Jays and taking their series opener against Minnesota 10-1 on Friday night.

Cruz, for his part, entered Saturday’s game with a .299/.337/.610 batting line and six home runs in September. According to ESPN.com’s Home Run Tracker, Cruz sits behind Edwin Encarnacion and Mike Napoli with 13 “no-doubt” home runs in 2016, third-most among major league sluggers. It’s safe to say he can add Saturday’s moonshot to that list.

Marlins’ outfielder and undisputed home run king Giancarlo Stanton remains untouched at the top of the Statcast leaderboard with a 504-ft. home run, and it’s difficult to envision any slugger reaching beyond that before the end of the season. Even so, Cruz won’t need to clear 500 feet to extend an impressive hitting record. One more home run will put the 36-year-old at 40 on the year, making 2016 his third consecutive season with at least 40 homers, and his second such season doing so in Seattle.

Report: John Farrell won’t rule out a postseason return for Pablo Sandoval

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 11:  Pablo Sandoval #48 of the Boston Red Sox looks on from the dugout before the Red Sox home opener against the Baltimore Orioles at Fenway Park on April 11, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Orioles defeat the Red Sox 9-7.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
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It’s been a strange season for Red Sox’ third baseman Pablo Sandoval, who lost his starting role in spring training, went 0-for-6 in three regular season appearances, and underwent season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder in May. That was the last the Red Sox were supposed to hear about Sandoval until spring 2017, when he was expected to rejoin the team after a lengthy rehab stint in Florida.

On Saturday, manager John Farrell was telling a different story. Per MLB.com’s Sam Blum, Farrell hinted that Sandoval could return to the team as soon as October, albeit in a very limited capacity.

At the time of the surgery, it was all looking at the start of next Spring Training,” Farrell said. “We’re not getting too far ahead of ourselves here, but at the same time, we compliment him for the work he’s put in, the way he’s responded to the rehab, the way he’s worked himself into better condition. We’re staying open-minded.

If the 30-year-old does return in 2016, don’t expect him to look like the three-home run hitter of the 2012 World Series. Should the Red Sox lose another player to injury, Sandoval might be called on as a backup option, but he’s unlikely to see substantial playing time under any other circumstances. Despite making two appearances at DH in the instructional league, Sandoval has not started at third base since undergoing surgery, though Farrell noted that a return to third base would be the next logical step in his recovery process.

Sandoval has yet to hit his stride within the Red Sox’ organization after hitting career-worst numbers in 2015. According to FanGraphs, his Offensive Runs Above Average (Off) plummeted to -20.2, contributing approximately two wins fewer than the average offensive player in 2015. (The Diamondbacks’ Chris Owings held the lowest Off mark in 2015, with -26.3 runs below average.) Sandoval has not appeared in a postseason race since the Giants’ championship run in 2014.

Heading into Saturday evening, the Red Sox could clinch their spot in the postseason with a win over the Rays and an Orioles’ loss.