WASHINGTON — Daniel Murphy and Tanner Roark of the Nationals will represent Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, to the regret of Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier.
“I don’t want players from the teams I care about participating,” Paulsen said Thursday. “I don’t want Adam Jones from the Orioles playing in the WBC. I don’t want Chris Tillman from the Orioles pitching in the WBC. As a Nats guy here in D.C., Max Scherzer can’t participate. He wanted to.”
“Thank goodness,” Rouhier said.
Scherzer initially committed to pitch in the WBC, but was forced to withdraw due to a setback in his recovery from a stress fracture on his pitching hand. The Nats ace was disappointed he could no longer participate. Roark was later added to the WBC roster.
“Pitchers who already log 230 innings in a season, start their year earlier, ramp up faster,” Paulsen said. “Roark now has to be ready for games — game shape — by the middle of March instead of the early or middle part of April.”
“And yes, theoretically, you might get off to a quicker start. You’re a little bit ahead of everybody else,” he said. “Here’s the problem: When you’re the Nats and you have designs on six months, and then the playoffs, and October and a deep run. Potentially you’re playing ’til the first week of November. I’m adding several innings, potentially upwards of — who knows? — if you’re a good starter on one of these teams, maybe 20 or so innings on your arm.”
“But it’s competitive innings,” Rouhier said. “It’s not just casual spring training where you’re working on a change up.”
“High-energy, max-effort stuff,” Paulsen said. “I don’t want my pitchers participating. Now position players I don’t feel as strongly about. Daniel Murphy in the playoffs — remember how banged up he was? He couldn’t get through the full season healthy. The Nats luckily got a big performance from him in the division series and it’s why they almost got past the Dodgers.”
“I need those guys ready to play and win in September to win me a division,” he said. “I need those guys ready to play and win me series-s-s-s in October. That’s why I’m paying them, in Murphy’s case, $14 million a year. I know that [Nats GM] Mike Rizzo said, ‘We got to win one of these, Team USA. WBC matters.’ No it doesn’t.”
“I love Mike Rizzo. No it doesn’t,” Rouhier agreed. “The idea is neat. And in general, you know me, when the Olympics came around… I’m all-in when you put USA on a t-shirt. Whatever the damn sport is — tiddlywinks, curling, golf, whatever.”
“So in general, when I hear this thing is coming. The first one, I remember, like Jimmy Rollins and Adam Dunn, they’re barely beating Canada but had some great games, ended up losing. I was into it,” he said.
“I don’t know what it says about me either, but I realize the logistics of it outweigh the coolness of it, because you’re talking about, as you said, Tanner Roark is the healthy guy in the Nats’ rotation,” he said. “He’s the Everyday Eddie. He’s Rubber-Arm Rod, okay?
“The rest of the rotation: Scherzer’s coming off surgery, Strasburg’s got one of those precursor injuries where I’m scared to death, Joe Ross’s shoulder inflames every time he sleeps funny. They’ve got no organizational depth. I can’t afford to have Tanner Roark have anything happen! He needs to be in a glass case of emotion until spring training ends, and then let’s just pray to God he gives me 200 innings.”