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Carpenter withdraws from Classic due to back stiffness

MLB.com @LangoschMLB

JUPITER, Fla. -- Still bothered by stiffness in his back, Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter informed Joe Torre, general manager of Team USA, that he needed to remove himself from the country's World Baseball Classic roster.

Carpenter, who has been missing from St. Louis' lineup for three straight days, said he made the decision to pull out of the tournament on Friday after he felt continued discomfort while taking swings in the batting cage. He was particularly concerned about that the tightness could seep into the area around his oblique. Carpenter missed a month during the 2016 season with a right oblique strain.

JUPITER, Fla. -- Still bothered by stiffness in his back, Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter informed Joe Torre, general manager of Team USA, that he needed to remove himself from the country's World Baseball Classic roster.

Carpenter, who has been missing from St. Louis' lineup for three straight days, said he made the decision to pull out of the tournament on Friday after he felt continued discomfort while taking swings in the batting cage. He was particularly concerned about that the tightness could seep into the area around his oblique. Carpenter missed a month during the 2016 season with a right oblique strain.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"I wanted to wait until the last possible minute and hopefully avoid it, but at this point, it wasn't a smart thing," Carpenter said. "It wouldn't be fair to me or our team for me to go out there in a risky situation. … I don't want to play at an 80-percent level if I don't have to. There's nothing saying that I have to be ready for the season right now. And for me to jump into this and put myself in a tough situation by trying to ramp it up before the Classic just wasn't a smart idea."

This was to be Carpenter's first World Baseball Classic appearance, and by giving up his spot on the roster now, he will not be eligible to join Team USA in later rounds.

"Super disappointed," Carpenter said. "But I'm at peace with it because I know it's the right thing. I'm in a situation right now where I'm kind of teetering on overdoing it. I just know how I am. In a Spring Training situation, you can kind of control that. But in a game, like a World Baseball Classic situation, I had to protect myself from myself. I just knew I wouldn't be able to take the baby steps that I need to to get ready for the season."

This spring setback doesn't appear as if it will jeopardize Carpenter's readiness for the regular season, which opens four weeks from Sunday. Carpenter will refrain from swinging this weekend and then try to slowly build back up next week. His hope is to return to Grapefruit League play in about a week.

The Cardinals' medical staff has given Carpenter clearance to continue his defensive work at first base in the meantime.

The World Baseball Classic runs from Monday March 22. In the U.S., games will air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN will provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. will have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament will be distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Jenifer Langosch has covered the Cardinals for MLB.com since 2012, and previously covered the Pirates from 2007-11. Read her blog, follow her on Twitter, like her Facebook page and listen to her podcast.

United States, St. Louis Cardinals, Matt Carpenter