Cardinals’ first baseman Matt Carpenter won’t be joining Team USA when the World Baseball Classic kicks off on Monday. Club manager Mike Matheny and GM John Mozeliak confirmed the withdrawal, though the decision was left up to Carpenter in the days preceding the tournament.
The infielder had been taking things slow in camp this spring and was scratched from a spring training game on Thursday after experiencing tightness in his lower back. Now, MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that the infielder is taking preventative measures to make sure the soreness does not spread to his oblique, especially in light of the right oblique injury that sidelined him through nearly a full month of the 2016 season. He’s expected to continue running defensive drills in camp, but won’t be swinging a bat for the remainder of the weekend and likely won’t appear in a game until next Friday’s match-up with the Nationals.
This would have been Carpenter’s first appearance in the World Baseball Classic. There was some chatter about his return to Team USA during the second round of the WBC, but as Rob Rains of Stlsportspage.com points out, that rule is exclusively reserved for pitchers. Instead, he’s scheduled to be replaced by the Pirates’ Josh Harrison, who will assume a utility role under the direction of Team USA manager Jim Leyland.