Yankees’ shortstop Didi Gregorius is out of the World Baseball Classic after feeling discomfort in his throwing shoulder during an exhibition with his Netherlands team.
The injury was later reported as a shoulder strain, and will leave the Yanks without one of their most valuable players when they take the field on Opening Day, and possibly for the entire month of April.
Naturally, after the injury was reported, fans were up in arms about Gregorius and his “irresponsible” decision to participate in the WBC.
The majority of social media is pointing the finger at the WBC for being the reason behind this injury. Surely if Gregorius declined to participate in the tournament and cast his national pride aside, he would have a clean bill of health and ready to go for Opening Day.
This sounds even more ludicrous now that I typed it out and can see it in words right in front of me.
To boil it down to its simplest form: Gregorius was injured playing baseball at the WBC. Had he decided against the WBC, he would be in Tampa with the Yankees....playing baseball.
Why do we think a player is kept in a safer cocoon if he is participating in spring training games as opposed to playing for his country? Games may be more intense in terms of a desire to win, but precautions are but in place to prevent injury as much as possible. Gregorius was mainly playing in a DH role for the Netherlands, as Red Sox shortstop Xander Bogaerts has seen the bulk of the action at shortstop.
I get it, Yankee fans could have dark flashbacks to 2013 when Mark Teixeira’s season was derailed after injuring his wrist during his time in the WBC. However, let’s not forget that his injury was suffered while hitting off of a tee. News flash: players still hit off of tees in spring training.
You only have to go back to last season when Bryan Mitchell had his season devastated from a freak toe injury during last year’s spring training. We have seen injury plague a star player’s season over in Colorado as newly acquired Ian Desmond is out until at least late April after breaking his hand when he was hit by a pitch in a spring training game. These injuries happen regardless of where you’re playing baseball, or what team you’re playing baseball with. It’s part of the sport.
The WBC is good for baseball, especially abroad. The United States’ win over the Dominican Republic was a thrilling game to hold us over until the regular season starts. That game does not happen without guys like Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Giancarlo Stanton participating in it.
Can we stop blaming the WBC for the injury to Gregorius and blame the nature of baseball? The fact that Gregorius will have to miss time certainly hurts the Yanks, but it still remains a part of the game. Double plays are turned in baseball just like they are in the WBC.
However, the double play was not turned just like Gregorius is used to doing. Gregorius was turning two from the second base position, which of course is not his natural spot. Is that the clear-cut reason as to why the Yankees are losing him for a month? Probably not, and again, these things unfortunately happen around the game.
Mariano Rivera is not an outfielder, but his season ended in 2012 when he was shagging fly balls in the outfield. Fans were furious that he was hurt doing something that is a silly risk in the first place. What some failed to acknowledge was the fact that Rivera loved fielding fly balls during batting practice for most of his career, and had no issue with it until that day in Kansas City in 2012. These guys love to play, and we can’t roll them in bubble wrap and only release them when baseball is “more meaningful.”
Unfortunately, we will have to hear about Gregorius and Teixeira’s injury every time a Yankee wants to play in the WBC in the future. Instead of reacting in anger to a player’s desire to participate, let’s remember that injuries happen in baseball regardless of the platform it’s being played on.