The World Baseball Classic is a chance for players to represent their home countries with national pride on the line. It's also a chance for players, managers, fans, and front offices to argue over the potential negative implications of a player playing in the tournament. Many have been invited to play, and may have declined. Hector Santiago of the Chicago White Sox is one such player to decline an invitation.
Santiago was listed on the provisional roster for Puerto Rico's WBC team, but as Dan Hayes of CSN Chicago says, Santiago has decided not to play. Four other White Sox players were listed on the provisional rosters of assorted teams throughout the WBC, but Santiago has decided to skip playing for his home country and instead stay back with his team during spring training.
There have been countless articles written, arguments never decided, and discussions among baseball's higher-ups about player safety and the risks associated with playing the WBC. There has never been any concrete evidence supporting the assertion that a player is more at-risk for injury if he plays in the WBC before the season, but teams are still wary of their players (especially their top players) leaving spring training and playing competitive baseball before the season starts.
Santiago may not be a top player, but the White Sox are probably relieved he is not playing. The 25-year old is entering his second year in the Majors. In his first two seasons with the White Sox, he has played in 44 games and posted a 3.09 ERA. Santiago was picked by the Sox in the 30th round of the 2006 draft. He has proven to be a nice piece of the bullpen, and the team hopes he can continue to add depth.
Although Santiago chose not to play in the WBC, he will be available once spring training games begin. He figures to be used quite often during the spring as the team evaluates all of its positions. With starting pitchers going for very short outings in the early part of spring, Santiago may see action on a daily basis, whereas during the regular season that was clearly not the case.