February 15, 2017
CLEARWATER, Fla. –– Two members of the Phillies starting lineup will be sticking around in camp rather than playing for their respective countries in next month’s World Baseball Classic.
Freddy Galvis, slated to start at shortstop for Venezuela, arrived to Clearwater, Fla., nursing a groin injury. He said it was “day-to-day,” but it will keep him out of activities at least temporarily in Phillies camp (the team’s first full-squad workout is Friday) and from playing in next month’s WBC.
“It was a tough decision,” said Galvis, who informed Venezuela manager (and boyhood hero) Omar Vizquel within the last few days. “Everybody wants to play for his country. But at the same time I think the situation, you just have to understand that it’s going to be a long season, six months, and I can’t force my body. I don’t want to (do that) before the start of the season.”
Michael Saunders, meanwhile, made the decision to turn down a spot on Canada’s roster on his own volition. The 30-year-old Saunders just signed as a free agent with the Phillies a month ago and felt it was more important to get acquainted with his new team in preparing for the 2017 season.
“If this makes any sense, it was a really hard decision for me but also an easy one at the same time,” Saunders said. “I’ve been with Baseball Canada since I was 14-years-old. And Greg Hamilton, the director there, I’ve never told him no. But this was the first time in my career I knew it was in the best interest for me to be here with the guys, getting to know my teammates.
“If I had been here for a couple of years I’d probably be playing in the WBC. But I have a responsibility to get to know my teammates, and not only that, but my outfielders as well, playing with everyone and getting comfortable with everyone because ultimately it’s about the season first and the World Baseball Classic second.”
Of course, Saunders isn’t the only person to turn down an invitation to the WBC. Mike Trout, Bryce Harper, and Clayton Kershaw are among the many star American-born players who won’t compete in next month’s tournament.
“They’re a little bit deeper than Canada, though,” Saunders said.
Saunders has been in camp all week taking regular batting practice in voluntary workouts for position players in Clearwater.
Galvis, meanwhile, checked in on Wednesday morning after spending most of the winter playing for Aguilas de Zulia, his Venezuelan Winter League team that captured the league championship and advanced to the Caribbean Series, which was held the first week of February. It was during the latter series when Galvis suffered the groin injury.
He was asked if staying back in Clearwater could actually help him better prepare for the upcoming major league season.
“Hmmm, I don’t know,” Galvis said. “I think I could have gotten the same preparation in the WBC, especially playing with guys like Miguel Cabrera and Jose Altuve and your manager is Omar Vizquel. So I think it would have been a good situation if I was playing (in it), but I think staying here too, I’ll have a chance to get more work and do what I need to do. I think here in spring training it’s not about numbers, but it’s about getting ready for the season.”