Team Canada won’t have the Cincinnati Reds’ first baseman at the World Baseball Classic in 2017.
The Cincinnati Reds must be sighing a breath of relief. When Team Canada manager Ernie Whitt first discussed the WBC, Joey Votto and Chicago White Sox first baseman Justin Morneau were the only two players that he thought were shoo-ins. In the past Votto has been.
Votto released a statement that said that there are areas of his game that were lacking in 2016. That can be read a couple of different ways. Both ways result in him staying in Arizona for the duration of spring training.
One reason that he may be playing in the WBC is that he doesn’t want to travel across the country to show up for one game. Team Canada hasn’t been particularly competitive in the event. They have yet to win a play-in game to get into the tournament.
Votto could be gearing up for a run an National League MVP, too. As a perennial MVP candidate and a competitor that slow start from last year may be eating him alive this off-season. The fact that the WBC is in the middle of spring training would completely disrupt his preparation.
The Cincinnati Reds are just one of the teams in Arizona that may see their players pass on the WBC.
Team Canada may be in danger of losing their other first baseman, as well. Justin Morneau is a free agent that is balancing his decision to retire or return to the Chicago White Sox. Either may result in him not playing in the WBC as Chicago also trains in Arizona.
Miami is not the only host city this year, either. Some of the games are in San Diego and others in Los Angeles. Why they are not playing some of the games in Phoenix is beyond reason. The less successful countries will lose players that will not want to travel.
The best news for Team Canada is that free agent outfielder Michael Saunders does plan on playing. He doesn’t know what team he will play for during the season, but he wants to follow his breakout year by helping Team Canada breakout. He is a good, young building block for Team Canada.
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Without Joey Votto, the WBC will still be fun to watch. For Reds’ fans the WBC may lose a little bit of interest, but seeing Votto get off to a hot start will well be worth it. Maybe he can finally hit that elusive .400.