Team USA Given Another Chance to Advance Despite Injuries to Key Players

Wendy AdairAnalyst IMarch 16, 2009

Team USA eliminated the Netherlands last night, postponing their own elimination from the World Baseball Classic, at least for another few days as the USA plays their next game on Tuesday night against either Puerto Rico or Venezuela, who will play each other tonight.

The USA team has reason for revenge on both teams, so I'm sure they are anxious for the opportunity to prove themselves worthy opponents, especially against Puerto Rico, who handed Team USA an embarrassing "mercy rule" loss on Saturday night.

Players on the USA team have had their share of injuries so far, and this could be a challenge should they win the remainder of their games in the second round and advance to the semifinals. Dustin Pedroia is already on the disabled list, and Brian Roberts has taken his place at second base, but now Chipper Jones will be unavailable for the remainder of the WBC and it looks like Ryan Braun may be as well, they are both suffering from abdominal strains.

Florida Marlins closer Matt Lindstrom is experiencing pitching shoulder problems, and David Wright of the Mets was removed in the eighth inning of last night's game with dizziness and blurry eyes after being smacked in the head breaking up a double play in the 3rd inning, hopefully he is ok and can play the remainder of the games.  Chipper Jones is currently unavailable, so Mark De Rosa finished the game at third base, but even with having a five or six-run lead, these games are seldom over until the final out as being a Mets fan has educated me on that fact. 

All of the players mentioned, except for Jones, who has been injured since Toronto, no disrespect intended, have substantially contributed to Team USA's success so far, and therefore, all are valid reasons for concerns for both the USA team and their MLB team.  These players have the support of their respective teammates and management and will be observed closely, both in support of their success and concern for their physical well being.

If any player is not available to play due to injury, either in the tournament or during the regular season, they should go on the disabled list, as Pedroia was inactivated this weekend, and free the roster spot for someone who can play the position effectively. Having guys on the bench unable to play and fill in for someone who may be injured, even if it's minor, is not fair or helpful to the team, except perhaps as a guidance or motivator influence. 

Mark De Rosa is a fine utility player and he did a good job, but he is not an everyday third baseman, so an occurrence in the eighth or ninth inning may have arisen that may be a routine play for David Wright or another every day third baseman, but could potentially be disastrous for a less experienced player. Not everyone is comfortable or cut out to play the "hot corner" as reaction time, fast footwork, and a strong throwing arm for ground ball outs across the diamond are essential in order to be successful.

If the USA team is to move on to the semifinals, they will need players that can start and relieve, if necessary, who are healthy and able to handle their positions with confidence. Hopefully none of these injuries or situations are serious, and all will be able to play effectively tomorrow evening and beyond, but it will be very interesting to see how events unfold for the remainder of the tournament and Spring Training.