Offseason Competitions Just 1 More Unnecessary Injury Gamble with MLB Stars

Karl Buscheck@@KarlBuscheckContributor IIINovember 17, 2014

TOKYO, JAPAN - NOVEMBER 15:  Robinson Cano #22 of the Seattle Mariners reacts after being hit by a pitch in the seventh inning during the game three of Samurai Japan and MLB All Stars at Tokyo Dome on November 15, 2014 in Tokyo, Japan.  (Photo by Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images)
Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

You were probably sleeping when Robinson Cano broke his toe on the other side of the Pacific Ocean. 

The injury occurred in the seventh inning of a game between the MLB All-Stars and Samurai Japan—a game that began at 4 a.m. ET on Saturday morning. 

After getting tagged in the foot by a pitch from Yuki Nishi, Cano hopped around and even walked to first base before ultimately exiting the contest at the Tokyo Dome.

As Anthony DiComo of MLB.com reports, the second baseman then went to a local hospital, where X-rays showed that he had sustained a non-displaced fracture in his right pinkie toe. The injury put an end to Cano's involvement in MLB's Japan All-Star Series and is expected to keep the veteran on the shelf for three to four weeks. 

"It's part of the game, getting hurt," Cano told DiComo. "I'll be fine."

Cano is spot-on. He will be fine. The left-handed hitter has plenty of time to return to 100 percent health before the Seattle Mariners open up the team's spring training camp in advance of the 2015 season. 

Still, larger questions loom. 

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

Just why exactly is Cano, who is entering the second season of a 10-year, $240 million megadeal, playing in an exhibition series in the middle of November? How is that worth the risk when there's no title to be won, no tangible reward to be had?

Admittedly, for a team member like Chris Capuano, the exhibition series might offer some tenuous value. The left-handed starter, who allowed just a single run in five innings of work in the All-Stars' 6-1 win on Sunday morning, is a free agent looking to land a job. A strong showing in Japan can only help his case as he searches for his next employer. 

For a headliner like Cano or Evan Longoria or Yasiel Puig, no such reward exists. 

What the injury to Cano underscores is just how easily the Japanese barnstorming tour could go sideways. All it would take for a big-time player to sustain a big-time injury is one errant pitch or a single awkward stumble rounding a base. 

What exactly is the purpose of MLB's Japan All-Star Series anyway? It's certainly not to drum up interest back home. That much is clear considering that all of the games have been slated to begin between 4 a.m. and 5 a.m. ET. 

As Cano himself explained, injuries are part of the game. The problem with that logic is that these games don't lead to the World Series; these games don't lead anywhere at all. For a superstar like Cano, taking part in an offseason exhibition series simply isn't a gamble worth making. 

If you want to talk baseball, find me on Twitter @KarlBuscheck. 

Related

    Joe Kelly: Astros Are Snitches

    Dodgers pitcher goes after Astros players for snitching on management: ‘To save your own ass, that’s what I don’t like’

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Joe Kelly: Astros Are Snitches

    Mike Chiari
    via Bleacher Report

    B/R’s New ‘Take Action’ Collection

    From court to concrete. We win together. Support The Social Change Fund with our new collection 🛒

    MLB logo
    MLB

    B/R’s New ‘Take Action’ Collection

    B/R EMBRACE
    via B/R EMBRACE

    Cubs (12-3) Beat Indians, Match Best Start Since 1970

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Cubs (12-3) Beat Indians, Match Best Start Since 1970

    670 The Score
    via 670 The Score

    Report: Joe Kelly’s Suspension Reduced

    Dodgers reliever’s ban reduced from eight games to five after appeal for throwing at Astros players

    MLB logo
    MLB

    Report: Joe Kelly’s Suspension Reduced

    Paul Kasabian
    via Bleacher Report