Beltre's Classic status unknown
Third baseman on final D.R. roster, but he may opt out
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners will be well represented in the World Baseball Classic.Twelve of the 16 Seattle players listed on the provisional rosters were named to the final rosters of their respective countries on Tuesday, but the number might fall short of a dozen. Third baseman Adrian Beltre's status with the Dominican Republic team remains unsettled for a few more days. Beltre, hoping to represent his country for the second time, was still pondering his decision on Wednesday morning. "I want to see how I feel after playing a couple of games," he said after walking into the Mariners clubhouse at the Peoria Sports Complex. The Mariners play the Padres in a charity game Wednesday afternoon, and Beltre was not listed in the starting lineup. Manager Don Wakamatsu talked to Beltre prior to Wednesday morning's workout and the game plan going forward, "is to get him into a game [Thursday] and see how he feels. He will make the decision on his own. He's going back and forth, trying to make the right decision." The Mariners play the Padres in the Cactus League opener at Peoria Stadium on Thursday. "I think taking batting practice and going from zero to 100 is our concern," Wakamatsu said. "He seems to feel he's further along than we anticipated. We'll probably talk to him after today's workout and see if he's going to be a go tomorrow or the following day."
Beltre, the only Dominican Republic player to earn a spot on the All-Classic team in '06 after hitting four home runs and driving in nine runs, had surgery last September to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb and arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder. He has been working out regularly this spring, but there has been concern that he might overdo it in the Classic and sustain a setback.The second edition of the 16-team World Baseball Classic, which opened to widespread acclaim in 2006, will begin March 5 and end in Los Angeles on March 23 with the finals at Dodger Stadium. All 39 games are slated to be televised this year by ESPN and MLB Network, including 16 on the Network.
As expected, the Mariners will have four players on the Venezuela team -- pitchers Felix Hernandez and Carlos Silva, second baseman Jose Lopez and outfielder Endy Chavez. Outfielder Ichiro Suzuki and catcher Kenji Johjima are fixtures on the Team Japan roster, and Minor League pitcher Phillippe Aumont, a starter, will pitch in relief for Team Canada.
Wakamatsu said he would let Beltre make the decision, but made his feelings known.
"I would prefer that he stays in camp," Wakamatsu said, "because of the injuries he had last year. But we've taken the stance all along that we're not going to make the decision for [anyone]. We give them our opinion, and we've encouraged [Beltre], from a health standpoint, to make sure he's 100 percent.
"He feels awfully good, but the discussion we had [Monday] from my standpoint was to be awfully smart about it."
Other Mariners selected to Classic rosters were: Manuel Campos (Panama), Greg Halman (The Netherlands), Alex Liddi (Italy) and Anthony Phillips (South Africa).
Left-handed pitcher Ryan Rowland-Smith and utility infielder Ronny Cedeno were among the Mariners players who opted to miss the tournament this year and spend their Spring Training battling for Opening Day roster spots.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.