ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 11: Joe Nathan #36 of the Texas Rangers closes out the inning for the win against the Cleveland Indians at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on September 11, 2011 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Rick Yeatts/Getty Images)
We talked last week about Elvis Andrus, Nelson Cruz and Adrian Beltre playing in the upcoming World Baseball Classic for their respective countries, and how that was OK.
We also talked about Yu Darvish declining an invite from Team Japan to play in the world baseball tournament, which happens every three years, and how that was a good thing.
Pitchers and position players are a different animal in this situation.
So it should be alarming to Texas Rangers fans that Joe Nathan has been asked by Team USA manager Joe Torre to play in the tournament. Nathan played in the first WBC in 2006, but didn't play in 2009. Keep in mind, he was seven years younger at that point. In 2012, his first year with the Rangers, Nathan was great before a bit of a collapse at the end of the season.
The 38-year-old had 37 saves in 64 1/3 innings with a 2.80 ERA with 78 strikeouts and 13 walks, and needs all the preparation this spring he can get so he can be fresh for all of 2013.
“We want to make sure as we hit those later months that I’m as good as I can be for this club,” Nathan told ESPN Dallas' Richard Durrett, who also noted that Rangers special assistant to the GM Greg Maddux is the Team USA pitching coach. “If the WBC isn’t part of that equation, obviously I back out.”
I wouldn't expect to see Nathan on the U.S. roster, if he is, there might be problems come September.