Cervelli withdraws from World Baseball Classic

Via Chad Jennings: Frankie Cervelli confirmed that he was withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic. He was scheduled to play for Team Italy.

Cervelli, 27 next month, will compete with Chris Stewart, Austin Romine, and I suppose Bobby Wilson for one of the team’s two catching spots. So yeah, it was a very smart decision on his part to remain with the club in camp so he can do as much as possible to impress the decision makers. Cervelli apparently has a minor league option left and I doubt he wants to return to Triple-A.

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Rosenthal: Pettitte will not pitch in World Baseball Classic

Via Ken Rosenthal: Andy Pettitte will not pitch for former manager Joe Torre and Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic. He had until February 20th to make his final decision.

As I’ve said before, I’m glad Pettitte will remain with the Yankees in Spring Training even though it would have been neat to see him pitch in the WBC. Rosenthal says there’s a chance Justin Verlander will join the squad — Kris Medlen recently withdrew from the event as well — which would be a pretty huge for Team USA. Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano, and Frankie Cervelli as the only Yankees who will participate in the tournament.

Pettitte has until February 20th to decide on WBC

Via Wally Matthews: Andy Pettitte has until February 20th to decide if he will pitch for Team USA (and former manager Joe Torre) during the World Baseball Classic in March. The veteran left-hander was not on the team’s recently-released roster, but he could replace Kris Medlen, who withdrew from the event because his wife is having a baby.

“(The Yankees) have expressed concerns because of the injuries (Pettitte) has had … So we’re thinking about it and we’re talking about it. We don’t have to make a decision until February 20th, so we have some wiggle time here. We’ll see what happens,” said Torre, who ultimately has the final call as to whether Pettitte is added to the roster. He made it clear he would not pressure Andy into pitching and probably wouldn’t go against the club’s wishes. Obviously I’d rather see Pettitte spend Spring Training with the Yankees, but I would be lying if I said it wouldn’t be neat to see him pitching for Team USA.

Teixeira — not Pettitte — on Team USA roster for WBC

Team USA announced its official roster for the World Baseball Classic earlier today (seen here), with Mark Teixeira being the only Yankee to make the squad. Andy Pettitte was reportedly going to participate in the event, but he is not on the final roster. Bob Klapisch explains that Pettitte’s exclusion may have to do with the insurance (or lack thereof) on his contract. Not gonna lie, I’m happy Andy will be the Yankees and not Team USA during Spring Training.

The remaining WBC rosters will be announced later this afternoon. Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic) and Frankie Cervelli (Italy) will participate in the tournament, and that’s expected to be it as far as 40-man roster players go.

Austin Romine, David Adams, and the WBC

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

The official rosters have yet to be released, but right now we know at least four Yankees will participate in the World Baseball Classic in a few weeks: Mark Teixeira (USA), Andy Pettitte (USA), Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic), and Frankie Cervelli (Italy). Since Hiroki Kuroda and Ichiro Suzuki have already declined invitations from Team Japan while CC Sabathia (elbow), Mariano Rivera (knee), and Derek Jeter (ankle) are all coming off surgery, those four guys are likely to be the only Yankees to play in the tournament. I suppose Josh Spence could crack the Australia roster, but he isn’t on the 40-man roster and not someone really worth worrying about at this point.

Four years ago, the Yankees had several players participate in the World Baseball Classic, most notably Jeter and Cano. While those two were off representing their countries, the club was a little short on middle infielders in Spring Training and gave some of their minor leaguers extended looks. That’s how Ramiro Pena, who had never played above Double-A at that point, wound up playing in 30 of the team’s 34 Grapefruit League games that year, receiving the fourth most at-bats of anyone on the team. He hit an okay .277/.329/.338 and flashed serious leather in camp, which was good enough to beat out the veteran Angel Berroa for the utility infielder position on Opening Day. Pena received an opportunity in 2009 and took advantage of it.

This spring, those WBC-created opportunities will belong to Austin Romine and David Adams. Romine, 24, was due to get a long look in Spring Training anyway given the team’s current catching situation, but with Cervelli away from the club, he’ll get even more at-bats in front of the team’s decision makers. Brian Cashman recently said he envisions Romine starting the season in Triple-A, but a strong camp has a way of changing minds. Since Chris Stewart appears to be a lock for one of the two catching spots, it’s Romine vs. Cervelli for the other and only one will be with the team in Spring Training. I think it’s fair to wonder why Cervelli is playing in the WBC given the big league opening. Maybe not the smartest career decision.

(Jordan Megenhardt/MLB.com)

As for Adams, he figures to get plenty of playing time at second base while Cano is away with the DR squad. The Yankees like the 25-year-old enough to have him work at third base late last season and in the Arizona Fall League a few weeks ago, presumably in an effort to increase his versatility in advance of a big league bench job. Adams can’t play shortstop and wouldn’t work as a true utility infielder, but the Yankees have yet to replace Eric Chavez and he could fill that spot. His primary competition would be Corban Joseph, who is a defensive liability at both second and third. As we saw with Pena a few years ago, the Yankees won’t hesitate to skip Adams over Triple-A if he’s the best man for the job, something he has a chance to prove in camp.

One other benefit of the WBC — if you can really call it a benefit — is the opening of Pettitte’s rotation spot. He’ll be getting his work in with Team USA while Ivan Nova and David Phelps have a true Spring Training competition for the fifth starter’s spot. Usually when there are multiple pitchers competing for one spot, one winds up pitching in relief of the other in the same game, meaning the starter tends to face big league hitters while the guy coming out of the pen faces the minor league replacements. With Pettitte away from the team, both Nova and Phelps can start every five days for the Yankees and truly compete for the rotation head-to-head with no scheduling or competition weirdness. Things will be a little more fair.

I enjoy the World Baseball Classic as a fan because hey, it’s meaningful baseball in March. The tournament itself is pretty meaningless, but I find it fun nonetheless. I do worry about players, especially ones as important to the 2013 Yankees as Cano and Pettitte, getting hurt while playing for other clubs, but it comes with the territory. Some of the absences this March will create some opportunities for young players in camp, specifically Romine and Adams. Both are on the outside of the big league roster looking in now, but there are openings available and a strong few weeks could be the difference between an assignment to Triple-A or a six-figure job in the Bronx.