Baseball players are often described -- or describe themselves -- as creatures of habit. And at no time is their adherence to routine more evident than during their methodical preparation for the season, when they shake off a winter's worth of rust and ramp up for the coming campaign.
Pitchers, especially, are dependent on spring training to build up arm strength, incorporate new offerings into their arsenals and learn to work with their battery mates. But every three (or, starting in 2009, four) springs, including this coming one, an event takes place that threatens to disrupt that routine: the World Baseball Classic.
The timing of the tournament has caused concerns that pitchers who choose to participate in it could be adversely affected, which likely explains why the United States squad announced on Thursday, while stocked with star position players, is relatively short on impact pitching talent.