Whether it’s bullpen strategies, defensive shift alignments or pinch hitting matchups, Yankees manager Joe Girardi seems to always be thinking one step ahead.
The same can be said of his thoughts on this month’s World Baseball Classic.
While the skipper enjoys the quadrennial international tournament and respects its meaning to the countries participating, he has a few gripes on its current layout, and it all begins with the health of his relievers, Dellin Betances (Dominican Republic) and Tyler Clippard (USA).
“You hope that guys this early on don’t have to throw two days in a row, but if you get in an extra-inning game … it becomes tough,” Girardi told Randy Miller NJ Advance Media on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of pressure on those managers, not only to win, but it’s probably more important how they handle the pitching staff.”
But, there’s more.
According to Miller’s report, Girardi prefers for the WBC to be stretched out over a longer period of time. And no, it wouldn’t interfere with Major League Baseball’s regular season, either.
“What I’ve always hoped was this would be the first round this week, the next round would be next week,” Girardi said. “Play three less games during the course of the season or you start the season three days earlier.
“Play (the semifinals and finals) in one city that has two ballparks. … Play (the semifinals) Tuesday of the All-Star break, the finals Wednesday, workout day is Thursday for the All-Star game, the (All-Star Game) is on Friday. You have Saturday and Sunday off. You (re-)start the season again on Monday.”
If the WBC was scheduled this way, Girardi also believes the current pitch count for starters (65 pitches) in the first round wouldn’t be necessary.
Six total Yankees have participated in the WBC this spring. Along with Betances and Clippard, Dutch shortstop Didi Gregorius, Mexican pitcher Giovanny Gallegoes, Italian pitcher Tommy Layne, and Columbian infielder Donavan Solano have seen playing time. Yankees’ first base coach Tony Pena is also involved as the manager for the Dominican team, and third base coach Joe Espada is helping Team Puerto Rico.
Team USA begins second round action on Wednesday night against Venezuela at Petco Park in San Diego at 9 p.m. ET.
“Obviously there’s value to the WBC,” Girardi told Miller. “They’re sold out in Miami (for this week’s games). There’s excitement. It’s on TV. They’re value to it. Can we make it work? There would be a lot of value to it in the summer.”