The Pittsburgh Pirates had their third player drop out of the World Baseball Classic since the provisional rosters were announced. First Ivan De Jesus Jr dropped out so he could concentrate on making the Opening Day roster, then Russell Martin bowed out, saying he wasn’t ready to catch nine innings this early in Spring. Martin came up with right shoulder soreness shortly afterwards, leaving the Pirates down a catcher in Spring. They lost another catcher on Saturday, after Ali Solis suffered back spasms during the Pirates games versus the Detroit Tigers. Solis was supposed to leave for Team Mexico this week and get time as their starting catcher. He played a full season of Winter ball, so he was in good enough shape to catch full-time in the tournament until this injury.
Another Pirates player could be making his way to Bradenton soon from the WBC. Stefan Welch and Team Australia are on the verge of being eliminated from the tournament. They lost their opening game 4-1 to Chinese Taipei, then dropped their second game to Korea this morning by a 6-0 score. Welch went 1-for-3, with a double and a walk. His homer in game one has been the only run scored by Team Australia so far. They play the Netherlands tonight at 11:30 PM EST in a must-win game for a shot at moving forward. Chinese Taipei has already won two games, so they will likely advance to the next round, while both Korea and Netherlands now have a win each. The only way Australia can make it further now, is if they win big tonight and hope Korea loses big to Chinese Taipei in the last game. There is a tie-breaker systems based on runs scored/allowed in case of a tie.
Chris Leroux told MLB.com’s Tom Singer that he will join Team Canada late and make just one start, even if they advance past the first round of play. Leroux will stay with the Pirates until Wednesday so he gets another chance to throw for the team before leaving. He will then make his start against Team Mexico on Saturday night, then rejoin the Pirates.
Three other Pirates will remain with their WBC squads. Jameson Taillon will start on Sunday for Team Canada against Team USA. Wandy Rodriguez will start for the Dominican team and closer Jason Grilli will pitch for Team Italy.
John started working at Pirates Prospects in 2009, but his connection to the Pittsburgh Pirates started exactly 100 years earlier when Dots Miller debuted for the 1909 World Series champions. John was born in Kearny, NJ, two blocks from the house where Dots Miller grew up. From that hometown hero connection came a love of Pirates history, as well as the sport of baseball.
When he didn't make it as a lefty pitcher with an 80+ MPH fastball and a slider that needed work, John turned to covering the game, eventually focusing in on the prospects side, where his interest was pushed by the big league team being below .500 for so long. John has covered the minors in some form since the 2002 season, and leads the draft and international coverage on Pirates Prospects. He writes daily on Pittsburgh Baseball History, when he's not covering the entire system daily throughout the entire year on Pirates Prospects.