Guerrero withdraws from World Baseball Classic
LAKELAND, Fla -- Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has withdrawn from the World Baseball Classic, where he’d been expected to star on a stacked roster for the Dominican Republic, the Blue Jays announced Saturday.
Guerrero is dealing with right knee discomfort after leaving a Spring Training game Friday in Dunedin, Fla., and while an MRI later that night revealed no structural damage to the knee, there is some minor inflammation that the Blue Jays want to treat carefully.
“He’s just doing treatment today and staying off of his feet,” said manager John Schneider prior to Saturday’s game in Lakeland. “We’re just hoping that’s the best thing for him right now.”
Guerrero’s injury happened while running the bases, though it wasn’t blatant at the time. With Bo Bichette on second base in the first inning of Friday’s game, Guerrero bounced a single back up the middle that scored Bichette on a close play at the plate. As that throw went home, Guerrero rounded first and ran for second, but he seemed to take some awkward steps and looked uncomfortable as he jogged into the bag.
The Blue Jays will know more in the coming days, but since Guerrero was scheduled to leave for Miami on Sunday to join his teammates with the Dominican Republic, it was necessary to make a decision soon.
“It was an awkward move yesterday, so at this stage in camp we’re being ultra cautious,” Schneider said. “He felt a little bit better today than he did yesterday, so we’re just taking it one day at a time.”
Guerrero joins catcher Alejandro Kirk (Mexico) and reliever Jordan Romano (Italy) in withdrawing from the Classic, with Kirk being the most recent after he was away from camp for the birth of his first child.
The initial worry with Guerrero, of course, is that this injury could be something that stretches beyond the realm of day-to-day. The Blue Jays are still in the evaluation process and are optimistic they’ve avoided anything more serious, but if the club does need cover at first base for any amount of time, it’ll have a couple of in-house options.
Brandon Belt was brought in primarily to DH, but he’s an option at first base when he completes his own ramp-up in camp. Belt is running the bases currently, and he could get into game action by next week, but the Blue Jays are not rushing their new veteran, who likely only needs 25-to-30 plate appearances in camp.
Cavan Biggio can also play some first base to go along with his flexibility between the infield and outfield, and on a roster as versatile as Toronto’s, that would not create a glaring hole elsewhere. The hope remains, though, that Guerrero will be able to return to baseball activities soon after taking these precautions.