The World Baseball Classic is set to kick off in March. For the Pirates, none of their pitchers are participating, but catcher Francisco Cervelli (Italy) and outfielders Andrew McCutchen (USA), Starling Marte (Dominican Republic), and Gregory Polanco (Dominican Republic) are.
If any of the Pirates’ pitchers were participating, pitching coach Ray Searage would advise them against doing so, he said in an interview with MLB Network Radio.
I am not one of the guys that is in favor of the WBC and the reason being — I’ve seen it over the years before — guys cutting short their rest periods for the winter and their workout routines and speeding it up. Now, this doesn’t hold true for everybody. It’s just that, in my opinion, I just think that you’re speeding up the process and that you leave yourself open to an injury during the season because now, all of a sudden, instead of April where you’re firing off, now you’re firing off in March, which is a couple of weeks before you should be. And the body is, to me, looking at my pitchers and stuff, they’re routine orientated. And the way they go about their stuff, speeding up the process — it happened to two of our guys. That’s probably why I have a bad taste in my mouth, it happened to two of our guys the last time: Jason Grilli and Wandy Rodriguez. They played in the WBC and they ended up getting hurt during the season. I think it’s great for baseball, I really do, but it’s that catch-22 thing: you’re danged if you do and danged if you don’t. If any of my pitchers asked me, I’d say no.
Some good news for the Nationals today: All-Star hurler Max Scherzer is due back from the injured list this week, this time (hopefully) for good. He’s slated to start during Thursday’s series finale against the Pirates.
It’s been a long road back for the right-hander, who earned his seventh consecutive All-Star designation after heading into the break with a 2.30 ERA, 5.6 fWAR, and a league-leading 7.56 SO/BB rate. An untimely back injury forced him to the injured list in the days leading up to the All-Star Game, however, and he hasn’t returned in any kind of part-time or full-time capacity since.
While Scherzer was originally expected to pitch for the Nationals sometime during their weekend series versus the Brewers, manager Dave Martinez elected to push back his return date by a few days. It’s not clear whether he felt some lingering pain during his 64-pitch simulated start on Saturday or whether the Nationals simply want to play it safe with their ace, but either way, the club apparently feels like Scherzer will be back to full strength before the end of the week.
If so, his return would be a significant asset to the Nationals, who could use a sub-3.00 ERA, 5.0-fWAR starter to help bolster their standing in the NL East. Still, there’s no guarantee that the veteran righty is ready to shoulder a full-time role in Washington’s rotation, nor is it certain that he’ll be able to match his results from the first half of the season. In one start between IL stints last month, he dealt five innings of three-run, two-walk, eight-strikeout ball in an 8-7 loss to the Rockies.