Team USA will gather Sunday in Phoenix to begin preparations for the World Baseball Classic, but there’s an unexpected item of business for general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. and manager Joe Torre to address before then.
Team USA must find a new relief pitcher, after Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez was forced to withdraw from the tournament because of a right shoulder strain.
“He was really pumped up for this, so this is doubly disappointing,” Garagiola said. “The player’s health and the season are the paramount concern, and he and the Indians will do what they can to make sure he’s ready for Opening Day. It’s too bad for Team USA, and I feel badly for him.
“From the minute Joe (Torre) reached out to him, last December or January, he was enthusiastic, sending out tweets. We’ll miss him. We wish he was part of the team.”
Garagiola said he expects to replace Perez with a reliever, so there’s no sense in wondering if Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw will suddenly change his mind