World Baseball Classic games begin this weekend, yet Joey Votto still hasn’t made a decision about whether he’ll play for Team Canada.
Votto’s status for the tournament is in question because of the pair of knee surgeries he had last season, but he’s healthy enough to have played in five spring training games for the Reds already.
Votto explained the delayed decision to Barry Bloom of MLB.com:
I don’t think it would be fair to anybody to make a commitment like that and then back out right beforehand. I just want to make sure I’m healthy.
Which is fine, except if his health is truly still in question just days before the start of the tournament it would seem like a no-brainer to skip the WBC. And the Reds would probably prefer that too.
Team Canada workouts begin Monday and they have an exhibition game Wednesday … against the Reds. However, even if Votto decides to play for Canada he’s unlikely to see any WBC action until the games actually count.
We learned on Monday that Hyun-Jin Ryu won one of the final two spots in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Brandon McCarthy has won the other, Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports. Alex Wood was McCarthy’s competitor for the spot.
McCarthy, 33, posted a 4.85 ERA across four appearances spanning 13 innings this spring, yielding seven earned runs on 14 hits and a walk with seven strikeouts. Wood, a southpaw, gave up five earned runs in six innings against the Reds on Tuesday, which might have factored into the decision.
Last season, McCarthy made nine starts and one relief appearance, posting a 4.95 ERA with a 44/26 K/BB ratio in 40 innings. In the event McCarthy falters, the club has Wood as well as Julio Urias and the injured Scott Kazmir as potential replacements.
The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.
Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.
Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.