You might not be aware of it, but there's a World Baseball Classic coming our way this year.
While most of the players around the league are in camp in Florida and Arizona, a select number will be representing their country in a tournament that hasn't quite turned out to be baseball's answer to the World Cup. The Yankees are going to be sending several of their players to take part.
Andy Pettitte and Mark Teixeira have signed up to play for Joe Torre on the United States squad, which means they might be facing off with Robinson Cano and the Dominican Republic's team at some point in the proceedings. Francisco Cervelli will be playing for Italy while several Yankees turned down roles in the international competition because of injuries or other reasons.
Injuries are always the first concern with players taking part in these events, simply because they are going to be playing in competitive games far in advance of the time when they'd be playing in them during the normal course of free agency. For a player like Pettitte, who only has so many innings in his left arm to begin with, it's an even bigger worry.
Fear of injury is a reasonable thing to have, although it is hard to actually quantify that risk. There's a chance of turning an ankle or pulling a hamstring on the practice field, too, so it feels like a stretch to say that these players are putting themselves in harm's way.
There are also some potential benefits to the Yankees. And we're not just talking about the possibility that Teixeira will trick himself into thinking that April came early to save us from watching his annual early season horrors at the plate.
Having players away from camp will give some other Yankees a chance to show their stuff. Ivan Nova and David Phelps can be fully engaged in the battle for the fifth starter spot and get plenty of innings to make their case for the job when the regular season rolls around.
Austin Romine should also wind up getting more chances to catch with Cervelli playing Mr. Enthusiasm in a different language. It's a bit strange that the Yankees aren't open to the idea of Romine winning a big league job this spring, especially since they're so intent on keeping costs low.
If Romine can play, you've got three years of a starting catcher at a miniscule price. Neither Cervelli nor Chris Stewart is a starting player, so it could wind up working out for the Yankees that Romine is in camp while Cervelli is with the Italians.
Should things not work out that way, the Yankees won't have lost anything for trying. That could make the WBC a winner in the Bronx regardless of who wins on the field.