The good news is that Joel Pineiro will stay in Cardinals camp instead taking time off to participate in the World Baseball Classic.
The bad news is that he is upset with the St. Louis coaching staff about the whole situation. And I hope it doesn't become an unpleasant distraction for the team or -- even more importantly -- for the starter who needs to pitch a whole lot better in 2009 to justify his $7.5 million salary.
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Pineiro wanted badly to play for his native Puerto Rico. But it was the Cardinals position that it would unnecessarily impact his spring training preparation to play in the World Baseball Classic if he wasn't going to be a starting pitcher there. The hurler was incredulous at the thought that he wouldn't be one of the three best pitchers on the Puerto Rican team. But on Tuesday, its manager let him know he would not, in fact, be a member of Team Puerto Rico's rotation.
The problem is that the manager in question is Cardinals third base coach Jose Oquendo. Is Pineiro going to hold a grudge against Oquendo all season long? It certainly sounds like that is a possibility.
"Everybody knows that's not my role," Pineiro told mlb.com. "I'm very disappointed, very heartbroken. I felt disrespected. Everybody knows it's only been two pitchers in Puerto Rico the past 8-10 years, consistent starters, which is Javier Vazquez and myself. To hear that from him, it was such a setback and I'm very disappointed."
Oquendo chose Vazquez, Ian Snell and Jonathan Sanchez instead.
Apparently, besides the ding to his pride, Pineiro is upset because he already bought tickets for a bunch of his family members to go Puerto Rico's games. Ironic, isn't it, that he is one of the most overpaid players in baseball and he wants to quibble over the price of a fistfull of tickets with the team that overpays him in the first place...
I really believe this whole situation could be resolved if they played the World Baseball Classic over the winter instead in the middle of spring training. Although there is still the injury risk, at least players won't miss camp and be out of playing shape when the season starts.
If the players don't like the winter idea, they are always free to give up their major league jobs and become amateur baseball players. But, when they have made a commitment to a professional team, their top priority needs to be to do what's best for the team that allows them to make such a nice living.