On Jan. 17 when Major League Baseball released the provisional Team USA roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic, Justin Verlander was not one of the players on the list.
But with an open pitching spot on the roster, Team USA is strongly going after the Detroit Tigers' ace to fill the last slot on the 27-man team.
Verlander should say "thanks, but no thanks."
Kris Medlen, a right-hander for the Atlanta Braves, recently left the team because of the impending birth of his child, leaving the roster with only three starting pitchers.
Because the other rumored pitching option, New York Yankees lefty Andy Pettitte, has taken himself out of consideration for the WBC, the attention has shifted solely to Verlander.
"Though Tigers ace Justin Verlander hasn’t made a final decision, there is said to be new optimism that Verlander will join the Team USA for the WBC," baseball sources said in a story by NBCSports.com's Craig Calcaterra. "Verlander will decide by February 20 whether he can take a final pitching spot on the USA team."
But Verlander, who is scheduled to report to spring training on Feb. 12, shouldn't even think about participating in the WBC.
Players like Verlander are creatures of habit and joining Team USA for the WBC, which starts on March. 2, would completely throw off Verlander's normal routine and give him more work than he needs.
If Team USA were to make the finals of the WBC, Verlander would be in action as late as March 19, just 13 days before Opening Day.
“(Verlander) knows himself well,” Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski told the Sporting News. “If he’s not ready, he’s not going to say he’s ready just to do it. But if he wants to do it, that’s fine by all means.”
But Verlander hasn't been known to take himself out of competition just because he's tired.
The former MVP has been a workhorse for the Tigers the last several years, logging the most innings among American League pitchers in three of the last four seasons.
Since 2009, Verlander has thrown 953 2/3 innings, and if he had it his way, that number would be higher.
Three of the most dominant left-handers in the major leagues, the Los Angeles Dodgers Clayton Kershaw, Tampa Bay Rays David Price, Yankees' ace C.C. Sabathia have also reportedly turned down offers to join Team USA, and Verlander should follow suit.
There are so many bad things that can happen to Verlander during the WBC, or over the course of the MLB season because of the effects the WBC might have.
The Tigers have the best shot of perhaps any season in their history to win the World Series in 2013, and they will need their best pitcher at 100 percent.
Although representing his country would be a great honor, Verlander doesn't have anything to prove, and frankly, the rewards reaped aren't worth the possible risks that come with pitching in the WBC.
Verlander, who has until Feb. 20 to make a final decision, should not pitch in the WBC this year and should focus solely on bringing a world championship back to Detroit.
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