Breaking News:

So Much Sports Baltimore has officially shut down on August 7, 2017, but would like to thank all of our readers, writers and everybody who helped make this website possible.

WBC is disrupting Os Spring Training

By: Ryan Callinan

It takes time for a pitcher and catcher to get on the same page, but instead of being with the Orioles in spring training, Welington Castillo is participating in the World Baseball Classic.

Spring training is being disrupted for teams around the league as players took off to take part in the World Baseball Classic that started on March 6. While managers will protest that the month-long Classic will give other players and prospects a chance to showcase their talents, let’s be honest, there isn’t one manager who wouldn’t prefer having all his players present and accounted for throughout the entirety of spring training; especially key players, and maybe more importantly, newly acquired players.

In the Orioles’ case, they’re sending both. Participating in the World Baseball Classic are pitchers Mychal Givens and newly acquired Vidal Nuno and position players Jonathan Schoop, Adam Jones, Manny Machado, and new catcher Welington Castillo.

So, what impact will this have on the Orioles’ spring training and season as a whole?

Well, in a highly competitive American League East division, the Orioles might not have the liberty of falling behind early in the season. They’ll have to start off sharp and continue that way if they hope to compete for a playoff berth. Unfortunately, the WBC isn’t making things easy on Buck Showalter and his coaching staff.

The obvious issue is the timing of the event. It must be a logistical nightmare for those in charge of scheduling as they have to consider a 162-game regular season, post-season, down time, and spring training before deciding the best time to fit in this major event.

Having just signed with the club, more attention will be placed on Nuno and Castillo’s absence in spring training; especially Castillo, who had been brought in to replace Matt Wieters behind the plate. He will lose precious time getting acclimated with the O’s pitchers, and anyone who knows enough about baseball knows that the relationship between a catcher and pitcher is vital, but also takes time to mold. Can Castillo be expected to return right before the season starts and gel with pitchers he’s hardly caught for? That’s a tall order to ask of him. Buck may have to start the season off with Caleb Joseph and allow Castillo some time to settle in.

Vidal Nuno could also use a full preseason to get comfortable with the pitching coaches and rest of the team. The 29-year-old is entering his fifth year in the league, having played for three other teams prior to signing with the O’s in February. He’s use to adjusting to different surroundings; however, that’s under normal circumstances. With the WBC disrupting the order of things, it could take Nuno some time before he makes a considerable contribution to the O’s bullpen.

The wild card of the bunch is Mychal Givens, though. The right-handed reliever proved his worth to the O’s bullpen with an excellent 2016 season. It must be killing Showalter having to watch one of his most important set-up guys take part in a tournament in the middle of spring training. Although, having a veteran coach like Jim Leyland managing team USA should have relieved some of the angst Showalter would have had when he found out Givens was participating. Leyland’s 22 years of MLB managerial experience will serve the players well in protecting their futures.

This altered preseason schedule will have less of an effect on Machado, Schoop, and Jones, veteran position players who know what to expect come opening day. The biggest concern with these three is staying healthy. The concept of playing for your country is great, but their career lies in the major leagues with the Orioles. Some will say, ‘they could get hurt playing in spring training, too,’ but the fact is they’re not under the supervision of Oriole managers, physicians, and other personnel who know precisely how to monitor their actions on and off the field in order to give them the best opportunity of staying healthy.

It should come as no surprise that every MLB manager has been in contact with the coaches of the teams their players are playing for in the WBC. They want to know their players are being used in the most appropriate manner — the way that will give their players the best chance of returning healthy and sharp.

Overall, the Orioles are lucky to only have six players attending the Classic as the Atlanta Braves are sending 10 participants and the Detroit Tigers are sending an MLB-high 15 players. Still, having six instrumental players miss vital spring training time could throw off the team’s early season chemistry. Jones and Machado will have to assume their leadership roles quickly upon their return and get the team all on the same page heading into opening day.

Let’s hope the headlines for this WBC are nothing but positive. The worst thing that could happen would be if a few high-profile players were to get injured. Then, the WBC, whose aim is to spread the beauty of baseball across the globe, would be criticized for seriously disrupting teams’ seasons and, more importantly, players’ futures.

The following two tabs change content below.

Ryan Callinan

Staff Writer
Ryan Callinan was born with a passion for sports. He grew up playing soccer, basketball, and baseball; all sports he enjoyed, but it was soccer that he excelled at the most. HIs talent in soccer earned him a scholarship to Calvert Hall College High School, where he made varsity all four years and won two MIAA Championship. Then he earned a scholarship to play at UMBC for coach Peter Caringi. Two unfortunate knee injuries cut his soccer career short, but that’s when he found a love for writing. He ended up transferring to Towson University, graduated with a degree in English and worked his way to becoming a sports writer. After joining So Much Sports he was inspired to further pursue his graduate degree in journalism at Towson University. So while maybe his dream of becoming a pro soccer player won’t be realized, his might still be able to cover pro soccer teams. The sport it still his true love.

Comments are closed.