The latest injury news from Team USA:
When it seemed as though the injury news could not get any worse for Team USA, manager Davey Johnson announced that Kevin Youkilis has left the team because of a sore left ankle on Wednesday.
Youkilis has returned to Fort Myers, where he is being examined by the Boston Red Sox.
Johnson said the injury happened three or four days ago, and that Johnson noticed Youkilis was in pain during Team USA's 6-5 comeback win over Puerto Rico.
Teammate Brad Ziegler said Youkilis was in such pain that after the game he could barely walk through the training room.
"He wasn't going to miss last night's game for the world," Johnson said. "We've been devastated by some key injuries."
Like so many off the ideas spawned during the miserable tenure of baseball Commissioner Bud Selig, the World Baseball Classic is a terrific concept poorly executed, particularly in timing. Others may rave about the quality of the games and the broadening of the sport to an international audience — qualities that I as a baseball fan appreciate and fully support — but I cringe every time a member of the team for whom I root (and that team is not an arbitrary collection of players generally two or three down the list of preferred representatives) plays a game as if it were meaningful a full three to four weeks before he will be fully ready for such activity.
This cropped up briefly with the injury to Dustin Pedroia, who sustained his minor abdominal injury while performing a task he would have been performing in Fort Myers anyway. The ultimately minor nature of the injury quickly defused talk of the relevance of the WBC and its very relevant effects on the real games.
Yet here is Kevin Youkilis, playing a game on an injured ankle that had been bothering him for the better part of a week — something he most assuredly would not have been doing in Fort Myers. So again we must have this discussion: Why is baseball allowing a series of exhibitions that encourages players to engage in behavior completely unproductive for the teams that actually pay their salaries?
Although Johnson, as manager of Team USA, is paid to worry about his team, the fact is the devastation by injuries to Team USA's roster is meaningless when compared to the cumulative effects of those injuries on Major League Baseball teams, which supply the majority of the players participating in the WBC. Obviously, we don't know whether these injuries would have occurred anyway. But that's not the point. The fact is they happened — are happening. And it's simply a matter of time before a player of Alex Rodriguez's caliber suffers a season-ending injury because he tried too much too soon (to paraphrase Pedroia after his injury) or decided he won't miss the next game "for the world."
The WBC concept is great. The timing is terrible. Play these games in November, when players will have three to four months to recover from any injuries they may incur. Playing in March was foolhardy three years ago. Doing it twice doesn't make it any smarter.
Title courtesy SF, who is much better at witty acronym bastardizations than I.