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The World Baseball Classic happens during an interesting part of the baseball season. For Major League Baseball, it can be used as a Spring Training of sorts for MLB players. However, Jose Altuve’s injury at the WBC raises about questions of MLB stars competing in the event. And Trea Turner’s grand slam presents the counter-argument.
Altuve represented his home country of Venezuela at the event. During the fifth inning of a quarterfinal game against the United States on Saturday night, US pitcher Daniel Bard blasted Altuve with a 96mph fastball.
On Sunday, the Houston Astros announced that Jose Altuve suffered a fracture and requires surgery.
To make matters worse for Altuve and Venezuela, US shortstop Trea Turner blasted a go-ahead grand slam in the top of the eighth inning. The US trailed 7-5 at the time, but Turner’s blast gave America a 9-7 lead.
The Stars and Stripes never looked back, winning by that 9-7 final score. They are set to face Cuba on Sunday night at 7pm Eastern Time on FS1.
The winner faces the winner of the other semifinal between Mexico and Japan to advance to the WBC Final, as there are now just four countries remaining.
Japan won the first two iterations of the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009. The United States is the defending champion, winning in 2017.
Japan has never finished worse than third place in any of the four World Baseball Classics. This is the US’ third trip to the semifinals, also finishing fourth in 2009.
Cuba finished as runner-up to Japan in 2006. This is their first trip back to the Final Four. Mexico has never made it this far in the tournament.
Altuve Injury, Turner Grand Slam present opposing arguments to MLB players participating in WBC
It would be interesting if you could get MLB teams to openly tell the truth about whether or not they want their players participating in the World Baseball Classic.
On the one hand, it’s a cool event where players get to represent their countries. Overall, it’s good for the game of baseball.
But seeing a star player break his hand on a hit-by-pitch is devastating for a team. It’s the second major injury during the event. Mets closer Edwin Diaz suffered a season-ending injury while celebrating a Puerto Rico victory.
Despite that, Trea Turner’s heroics provide the exact opposing argument. Hitting a game-winning Grand Slam to send your country into the semifinals of an international tournament? Irreplaceable feeling.
The NHL deals with a similar problem. They openly say they don’t want their players competing in the Winter Olympics, which occurs in the middle of the league’s regular season.
But the players’ position is clear: we want to play. That seems to be the case for the WBC, as well. Francisco Lindor said the event is every bit as important as the MLB regular season.
Either way, MLB players are involved in the event now and the United States is two wins away from back-to-back WBC championships.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on Twitter: @OutkickDanZ