Chicago White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle and second baseman Tadahito Iguchi, two valuable players of the Sox’s 2005 World Series title, announced they have withdrawn from their participation in the first World Baseball Classic this March.
Buehrle who won 16 games, lost 8 games, ERA 3.12, 149 Strikeout in 2005, has pitched 221 innings or more in each of the last five seasons. He already had relayed his decision to Buck Martinez, the manager for the United States.
Buehrle’s first public comments regarding this matter came during an interview on “White Sox Weekly,” a Saturday staple on WSCR-AM 670, the new flagship station for the White Sox. “I turned down to play in the World Baseball Classic,” Buehrle told host Chris Rongey on Saturday morning. “The main reason is that I want to be ready for the season, and I don’t want to cheat our fans and my teammates.”
“With me going into the Classic, I’m taking a chance of getting hurt. It’s such an honor to even be asked to go play there, and that’s why I really thought about it a lot. But I talked to Buck Martinez the other day, and told him I’m going to have to turn it down this year.”
His decision alleviates concerns about their rotation. The Sox have 22-year-old Brandon McCarthy who is a potential sixth starter and could be into the 5th one if they choice to trade Jose Contreras for prospects or if any starter gets hurt.
Citing his position on the major league club, wants to focus on his play as he enters his second year in the majors, Iguchi has withdrawn from the Japanese squad.
According to Kyodo News agency, “Unfortunately, I’ve decided to withdraw from the squad. I informed manager Sadaharu Oh of my decision by fax yesterday,” Iguchi said while training in Japan’s southernmost island of Okinawa. “This is the second year of my two-year contract with the White Sox. The team expects more from me than in the first year, so I would have to be in spring training.”
Iguchi’s reported withdrawal follows New York Yankees outfielder Hideki Matsui’s decision in late December not to join Japan’s squad at the 16-nation games, it leaves Seattle Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and Texas Rangers reliever Akinori Otsuka are are the only two Major Leaguers on Japan’s roster.
Iguchi’s decision not to play for his native Japan allows manager Ozzie Guillen to experiment with his revamped offense. Iguchi will be evaluated as a sixth- or seventh-place hitter to take advantage of his run-producing capabilities.
Iguchi performed so well in the second spot in 2005 that Guillen often referred to Iguchi as his most valuable player. But Iguchi batted in the middle of the order during most of his eight seasons in the Japanese Pacific League.
The announcements leave the White Sox with only two players–starting pitchers Freddy Garcia (Venezuela) and Javier Vazquez (Puerto Rico)–committed to participate in the WBC. Both players will miss at least three weeks of spring training.
Vazquez did not seem overly concerned with the earlier preparation. “Obviously, I have to be ready earlier than I usually would,” said Vazquez, who already was throwing off of a mound before the end of 2005. “It’s going to accelerate what I usually do, but I don’t think it will affect me.”