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March 03, 2017

Could Franco depart Phillies camp to join Dominican WBC team?

CLEARWATER, Fla. – Maikel Franco was contacted on Thursday by his home country’s World Baseball Classic team about his possible availability for the upcoming tournament.

The 24-year-old Phillies third baseman wasn’t sure if he would join the Dominican team, however, with WBC players departing camps across Florida and Arizona before the end of the weekend to join their respective tournament teams.

“We’ll see,” Franco said Friday morning.

The Dominican Republic has been scrambling a bit in the last couple of days to finalize its roster with less than a week before their first WBC game, on Thursday against Team Canada. On Friday, the team added Seattle infielder Jean Segura to replace Boston’s Hanley Ramirez, who has been nursing a shoulder injury.

But the Dominicans may have another vacancy on their roster in the next 24 hours.

Texas Rangers four-time All-Star and five-time Gold Glove-winning third baseman Adrian Beltre said he will make the decision on his own WBC availability on Saturday. Beltre has been dealing with a strained left calf injury this spring.

According to reports out of Rangers camp, Beltre was scheduled for an MRI on Friday.

“I've been doing a little running,” Beltre told reporters in Surprise, Ariz. “But I just don't know if I'm going to be ready enough to be able to help the [Dominican] team. I really want to go, but at the same time, I don't want to just go and show up.”

As a right-handed hitting third baseman with pop, Franco would be a somewhat obvious replacement for Beltre.

Franco was on the Dominican team’s 50-man provisional roster when it was announced on Feb. 3. But it’s still uncertain if he could or would join the team if asked.

Earlier this week, Odubel Herrera had to depart Phillies’ camp in Clearwater, Fla., for a day to visit the Venezuelan consulate in New Orleans in order to obtain the proper paperwork to play in the upcoming tournament. It’s unclear whether Franco has his own paperwork in order.

Franco would also have to be on board with playing, of course. The third baseman was scratched from Friday’s Phillies lineup after having a root canal earlier in the morning.

A trip to the dentist probably wouldn’t deter Franco from playing for the Dominicans. He said he’d like to represent his country.

He’s just unsure if the timing is right.

“They leave on Sunday,” Franco said of the WBC players in the Phillies clubhouse. “So that’s only two days.”

The five Phillies players who will depart major league camp for their respective WBC teams before the end of the weekend: Herrera (Venezuela), Hector Neris (Dominican Republic), Nick Pivetta (Canada), Jorge Alfaro (Colombia), and Pat Neshek (United States). The Dominican Republic won the most recent WBC tournament four years ago. 

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