Photo Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Canada’s roster — if you can call it that — for the WBC was revealed on Wednesday evening, and over at Sportsnet, Shi Davidi filled us in on the reasoning for a couple of big absences.
Michael Saunders, it turns out, will skip the event because he “needs to be in camp with his new team,” meaning… he wants to be in camp with his new team. Or so one assumes. He’s on a one-year deal, looking to solidify his playing time and have a healthy, productive start to his season, and being away from his teammates obviously isn’t idea.
More interestingly, we’re told that Russell Martin — who was supposedly all set to play shortstop for the red and white — is not able to participate because of “insurance complications related to his minor off-season knee surgery.”
I read Shi’s piece and completely missed the fact that Martin going under the knife was new information — thankfully Ian over at the Blue Jay Hunter recognized it. And our old friend Kyle Matte tweeted to remind me that I had indeed written — if only very briefly — about the possibility back in October..
Turns out it was something Ross Atkins addressed (by mostly not addressing it) during his big postmortem talk with reporters. At the time he simply said that surgery hadn’t been ruled out for Martin, Josh Donaldson, or Kevin Pillar — all three of whom ended the season banged up.
You may recall that Martin hurt his left knee in a sauna mishap back in July, which potentially could have had something to do with the surgery. But before we jump to that conclusion it’s probably a good idea to remember that he had his best stretch of the season immediately after the incident, and didn’t completely fall apart until September. He was hurting by the end, but guessing at when the issue started seems a little pointless.
Whatever the case, I think we can glean from the fact that it was an insurance technicality that’s kept him off the WBC roster, and a surprise, that he’s feeling fine and this isn’t going to actually impact him going forward.
Team Canada, on the other hand, is dealing with another blow. As Shi notes, they’re also down Joey Votto, Jameson Taillon, James Paxton, Brett Lawrie, and… well… everybody except Freddie Freeman, pretty much. The WBC sure could be a great tournament if there was a way to do it right. Is there? I have no idea, but it sure as hell isn’t what they currently do.