We picked at it a bit by discussing the benefits of withholding Chris Sale from the World Baseball Classic, but the Earth is a vast forest with many fruit, and many rosters to fill, from countries with far weaker baseball programs.
As such, there is a seemingly random smattering of members of the White Sox organization that are in the process of considering whether to participate in the tournament. The event itself teeters on the edge; it seems unwise in principle to have the organization’s players participate in an exhibition, but it also serves as a boost for their morale to represent their country, and is such a piddling amount of playing time that the risk is minimal, even trivial.
It makes things more complicated that all those being considered for the Sox are pitchers, who are made of paper mache and cannot be trusted to fetch things from tall cabinets.
Andre Rienzo, RHP – Brazil – Committed to Play
Rienzo represents an almost best case scenario for participation, since he’s a prospect–meaning he inherently needs reps for development–and did not have the benefit of a full 2012 season after he was suspended last April for testing positive for PEDs.
Better yet, the Brazil team doesn’t have the slightest chance of getting out of pool play, so Rienzo isn’t looking at anything much beyond a single start.
Jesse Crain, RHP – Canada – Committed to Play
Total workload is not something usually considered with Crain, since he hasn’t topped 70 innings in a season since Bush was in office. Besides the possibility of some higher-leverage work, a couple of relief appearances for–yet again, not a team expected to go very far–should not be much different than Crain’s normal activity. He worked all of 1.1 innings in the 2009 Classic.
However, with the oblique troubles that Crain dealt with all throughout 2012, he’s far from a road warrior who can be trusted to skirt by without problems.
Hector Santiago, LHP – Puerto Rico – Wafflin’
Santiago has gone back and forth throughout the Winter. When the off-season begin, the organization was all about continuing his momentum toward becoming a starter. But after completing the Puerto Rican Winter League season, it looks like it’s up in the air. At the very least, one has to admire to way Santiago is leveraging for the role he wants.
“It would be an honor to pitch for Puerto Rico. If they want me to start, I might do it. But I haven’t spoken to (Sox general manager Rick Hahn), and it might not be the right time to leave the White Sox.”
In his article (linked above) Mark Gonzales seems to phrase John Danks’ ability to return in time for the start of the season as indefinite, in which case it seems a lot more likely that the White Sox would urge Santiago to come back. Given that Santiago seems dead-set on starting above all other concerns, it’s likely he would acquiesce.
Chris Sale, LHP – USA – Out
Part of being an organization greatest hope/strength/source of anxiety, is getting used to be being treated like a hemophiliac without an immune system. To his credit, Sale sounds like he realized he was never going to be a part of the USA roster.
“I don’t think throwing as much as I threw last year and exceeding limits that were set, I don’t think throwing in competition earlier than I was supposed to be is best for myself and the team,” Sale told MLB.com during a phone interview from his Florida home. “I want to be as strong as I can for the whole year, for myself and for my team. I want to still have gas left in the tank if we get into October like I hope.”
Dayan Viciedo & Alexei Ramirez, LF & SS – Cuba – Out
Seem like obvious candidates, right? Apparently there’s some sort of government situation going on, though. Too bad.
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