Team USA will not have the best pitcher in baseball on the mound when the WBC fires up on March 2nd. Justin Verlander informed manager Joe Torre he would not be ready to pitch in a game that matters so early in spring.
Team USA announced their provisional roster for the World Baseball Classic last month, but only 27 players were named. The final roster spot was left unfilled, specifically held open for Justin Verlander, who had yet to make up his mind.
When Team USA takes the field on March 2nd , Verlander will not be on the mound. The Tigers' ace officially confirmed he has declined his invitation to play in the WBC.
Verlander spoke to Team USA manager Joe Torre to break the bad news:
"I told him, ‘In all honesty, I really did want to pitch for you, but it’s just not the right year for it,’" Verlander said. "If we hadn’t gone to the playoffs, I don’t think it would have been a problem. I could have started getting ready a little earlier.
"Spring training is this long for a reason, and I have to be ready for (the Tigers)."
A physical freak of nature, Verlander led the American League in innings pitched in three of the last four seasons, taking on another 48 2/3 innings in the 2011-12 post seasons. But even a workhorse knows when enough is enough. Verlander cited the heavy playoff workload as his reason for not taking part in the WBC.
Verlander is known to be meticulous in his preparing for the season, the possibility of the WBC disrupting that loomed large. There is always the fear of players overextending themselves to the point of injury as well. I'm thinking Tigers fans everywhere have breathed a sign of relief.