We've all heard tales of people coming back from trips to Mexico with stories of nasty stomach issues. The Mets would probably prefer that Oliver Perez was telling tales about nights strapped to the toilet instead of the one that he brought back to Port St. Lucie from his stint with the Mexican World Baseball Classic team.
Perez was used for 85 pitches in his final start, a good number more than he would have thrown in a Mets exhibition game. On Wednesday, he made an admission that likely sent someone to make sure that his $36 million contract was insured.
"When I was throwing 75 [pitches], I was feeling good," Perez said. "After that, I was feeling a little more tired because I was trying to use my strength and make pitches to get out of the inning the best I can ... "It's not like spring training, when you're just trying to make your pitches and get ready for the season. These [WBC] games, you're trying to win a game because you know it's important for your country."
USA Today recently published the results of a study that found four of five pitchers from the 2006 WBC posted higher ERAs than the year before. It also found that more than one in three landed on the disabled list at some point in the 2006 season.
Some will argue that players get hurt all the time in Spring Training, which means that player injuries aren't a reason to forego future tournaments. Major league teams are used to such spring calamaties, however, and view them as the cost of doing business. Sending players to play for someone else, in a tournament that doesn't bring them signinificant revenues, is something that they'll view in an altogether different light.
You can't blame Vinny Castilla for using Perez the way he did, or Felipe Alou for playing David Ortiz, still rehabbing an injured wrist, at first base. That's what happens when you try to win games. You can't blame teams for wanting that time to prepare for the season either, and they've got a lot bigger stake in the health and well being of the players going forward.
The WBC is a great idea, and the games have been entertaining, but there doesn't seem to be a reasonable way to take care of both sides' concerns. Because of that, the thought of a 2012 Classic isn't one that seems particularly likely.