We’re one month away from the World Baseball Classic and the seemingly never-ending roster shuffling remains just that — never-ending.
This time it’s the controversial Melky Cabrera — not to be confused again with Miguel Cabrera, he’s still playing for Team Venezuela at last word — who has withdrawn his name from the competition and will not be participating for the Dominican Republic.
That’s according to Dionisio Soldevila of the Associated Press and ESPN Deportes, who says Cabrera will instead put in a full spring training in preparation for his first season with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Fair enough, I suppose. Though with Cabrera's name once again connected to PEDs in the past week, it's possible there's a lot more to this decision than getting off on the right foot in Toronto. Of course we can't say for certain that the allegations published in the New Times of Miami influenced him in any way, but the timing and simple connecting of dots make it worth speculating.
Another player mentioned in Tuesday's reports, Nelson Cruz, remains on the Dominican's provisional roster for now. In fact, he's one of only two remaining outfielders, along with Carlos Gomez, now that Cabrera has withdrawn. Without any other obvious replacements on the current roster, they'll be forced to add another outfielder before the tournament.
Mike Axisa of Eye on Baseball lists Alejandro De Aza, Jose Costanza and the versatile Emilio Bonifacio as possible candidates.
So again, if you're keeping score at home, Melky Cabrera is definitely out of the World Baseball Classic. Miguel Cabrera is still in. Nelson Cruz, and Cabrera's new Toronto teammates Jose Reyes and Edwin Encarnacion are still in for the Dominican Republic, while Esmil Rogers also backed out on Saturday.
For Team USA, Giancarlo Stanton will definitely play, but Mike Trout is out of the tournament until 2016. And I'm sure we'll learn of more comings and goings over the next few weeks. I'd just keep that scorecard handy and make sure every name is written in pencil, because the 28 days will be an eternity in WBC time.