For a team that is supposed to be built on a foundation that is one part speed, two parts defense, three parts bullpen and five parts Sakrete, the collective of major leaguers repping the United States of America in the WBC looked pretty damn good just one week ago. In the last four days, however, four different players have pulled out of the competition causing manager Davey Johnson to scramble for replacements. To wit:
Grady Sizemore, OF, strained groin: Outside of Carlos Beltran, Grady was probably the best all-around center fielder in the tournament. He'll be replaced by Shane Victorino, who was originally trying to field a seventeenth team for his native Hawaii.
Brad Hawpe, OF, lacerated finger: Hawpe tore his little pinky right open sliding into second base on Friday. Here's some free career advice, Brad: next time, just get the girl to take her own bra off. Hawpe was replaced by Nats slugger Adam Dunn, who will undoubtedly be forbidden to walk on the outfield grass and will instead back up Youk at first.
Unfortunately, Cards OF Ryan Ludwick and Orioles OF Nick Markakis already turned down their invites to play nice nice with Team USA because they weren't offered starting jobs. Prima donnas! Harrumph.
Joe Nathan, RP, ouchie shoulder: Either Nathan's seventy innings per year average is catching up to him or he needs to spend some extra time in Twins camp playing Battleship with Nick Blackburn. (psst...Blackburn moves his destroyer). Nathan will be replaced with LaTroy Hawkins, who was driven out of the Bronx last year for the sin of wearing Paul O'Neill's #21.
B.J. Ryan, RP, infinite sadness: Well, at least one out of four of these departures turned out to be a positive for Team America. Someone named Joel Hanrahan will take up the empty roster spot.
Also, Angels closer Brian Fuentes is going to miss the first round of the WBC to attend to a death in the family, but promised America that he'd be back for Round Two. Bring back a mimeograph of that death certificate, Brian, or at least a picture of yourself by the coffin, or Davey Johnson will have your ass. Padres reliever Heath Bell, who must be a great pitcher since he applied to be part of the WBC team last fall and got no reply whatsoever, will pick up Fuentes' scraps in round one.