Following a breakout season, Guardians second baseman Andres Gimenez has committed to playing for Venezuela in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
Gimenez, who was born in Barquisimeto, Venezuela, has emerged as one of the game's best infielders in 2022, hitting .300 with an .842 OPS, 17 home runs, 26 doubles, 68 RBIs and 20 stolen bases. His 6.1 fWAR is fourth among all American League position players, even topping Jose Ramirez's 5.9. That was plenty for Gimenez to earn the invitation to represent his home country.
The 2023 WBC is scheduled to run from March 8 to March 21. A consideration during this tournament, which in the past has provided plenty of excitement and pride for those participating, is that it does run through the middle of spring training. Teams are often a bit careful during the spring while players ramp up their workloads for the regular season. The WBC tends to bring out a little extra effort compared to what would be required for the middle of Cactus League play.
The Guardians are mindful of that but have remained supportive of players participating in the WBC if they wish.
"Whatever's good for baseball, I get it," manager Terry Francona said. "I think it scares all of us. Especially your pitchers that you've asked a lot of them. There's certain guys you might want to ramp up a little slower than normal and yet if they play in that, they're playing in competition way earlier. That's scary."
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"With the position players you grin and bear it. Nobody likes not having your guys around in spring training. But if I was Gimi, I would want to represent my country. I get it. It's a big honor. But you worry."
The last WBC was held in 2017. That year, Cleveland had six major league players participate: Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico), Andrew Miller (United States), Carlos Santana (Dominican Republic), Roberto Perez (Puerto Rico), Giovanny Urshela (Colombia) and Joe Colon (Puerto Rico).
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Read more about the Guardians at www.beaconjournal.com/sports/cleveland-guardians. Follow him on Twitter at @ByRyanLewis.
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: Guardians Andres Gimenez commits to play in 2023 WBC for Venezuela