There is no doubt 2017 is not a typical year for spring training, as the World Baseball Classic 2017 will have an impact on schedules and players. As we know from our inbox, many readers have questions about the specific impacts. We’ll try to answer some of those questions here.
The World Baseball Classic is MLB’s global tournament, held every four years at a variety of venues around the world, culminating with a championship round in the United States. It’s an interesting mix of current MLB players, professionals in foreign leagues (Nippon Professional Baseball, China Baseball League, Chinese Professional Baseball League, Australian Baseball League), independent leagues (American Association, Can-Am League), and national amateur leagues (Cuban National Series). For instance, Chris Archer (Tampa Bay Rays) and Max Scherzer (Washington Nationals) will play for Team USA. Many other stars pass on participation; for instead, Noah Syndergaard will be in Port St. Lucie training with the Mets instead of playing in the WBC. But players like Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), George Springer (USA), Danny Baez (Puerto Rico), Francisco Lindor (Puerto Rico), Adam Jones (USA), Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic), Yadier Molina (Puerto Rico), Carlos Gonzalez (Venezuela) and Jonathan Lucroy (USA). All provisional rosters should be released by mid-January.
There is, of course, enough star power to go around, even if a star like Syndergaard passes. Four years ago a relatively unknown Anthony Rizzo suited up for Team Italy four years ago. And some great young talent will be on display on the Asian and Latin American teams as well.
Without finalized rosters, it will be hard to say how each MLB team is affected for spring training. Generally speaking, participants leave training camp to play in the World Baseball Classic, so there’s the chance your favorite players will be in Miami in March instead of their Arizona training camp. But the WBC players don’t train for three weeks with their international team, so you can bet they’ll opening training camp in mid-February with their MLB squads.
One more thing to note: there won’t be any impact on facilities. In past years World Baseball Classic games were held at spring-training venues like Salt River Fields, but only MLB ballparks will host games in the United States. The first round of games will be held at Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome, the Tokyo Dome, Marlins Park, and Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Guadalajara. The Miami games on March 9-13 feature play in Pool C (Dominican Republic, United States, Canada and Colombia). That’s certainly a glamorous draw for spring-training fans: as noted earlier, the Dominican Republic won the 2013 tournament, and the U.S. team is sure to have some familiar faces.
Spring-training fans may also be interested in the second-round games on March 14-19 at San Diego’s Petco Park.
And, of course, Dodger Stadium will host the WBC semifinals and final on March 20-22, 2017. This will be the second time Dodger Stadium has hosted the final two rounds of WBC games, the previous time in 2009.
If you are interested in those games, check out our WBC calendar along with ticket links. The WBC requires you buy 6-game strips for all the games at a venue. If this is overkill for you, check out our WBC Schedule, where you can buy tickets for specific games. And, of course, you may have the chance to see WBC teams this spring, as several national squads — USA, Canada, Colombia, Dominican Republic — have scheduled games in Florida and Arizona. Check out the Grapefruit League and Cactus League schedules to see what games are close to you.