FORT MYERS, Fla. – Two arguments could be made about Dustin Pedroia’s minor abdominal injury as it pertains to the World Baseball Classic.
No. 1: It crystallizes the primary drawback of the WBC: In order for the event’s existence, star players must unnecessarily risk injury in what amounts to an exhibition just before the season begins.
“If you wanted to paint it that way, you probably could paint the story,” Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein said. “He went 0 for 5. We all know Dustin. He was probably [angry] he went 0 for 5. He showed up the next day, hit extra, got a little sore, and then he felt it on a swing.”
No. 2: It says nothing about the WBC: Pedroia could have just easily sustained the injury while taking batting practice here among Red Sox teammates.
“If you like the WBC, you write it one way,” Epstein said. “If you don’t like it, you write it the other way. I’m going to say neutral Switzerland on this one. You can make the argument either way.”
The WBC forces players to play more and with increased intenstiy, which no doubt raises the opportunity for injury. But accidents happen.*
*The unusual strain pitching takes on the shoulder and elbow makes this stance moot for pitchers. Hurlers who agree to pitch in the WBC are either admirably patriotic, patently crazy, or both.
Before you consider Pedroia’s sore abdominal, curse the WBC, and watch Kevin Youkilis play tonight only while peeking through your fingers, remember: Taking batting practice in City of Palms Park does not make one invincible. “Could he do that in a cage here, too?” manager Terry Francona asked. “Yeah.”
Also: Imagine that Pedroia had declined the invitation to the WBC. On Friday morning, he might have been running bases here, stepped on a bag funny, and broken his ankle. Just think — the WBC might have actually saved Pedroia from a more serious injury. This view requires some strange philosophical creativity, but I think you get the point. Sometimes, stuff happens.