Guthrie Struggling, Pull Him from the WBC

Much has been made of the World Baseball Classic — positives and negatives — and the Baltimore Orioles currently have four players in the huge event (Brian Roberts, Jeremy Guthrie, Cesar and Melvin Mora). While the team has all four players in the semi-finals out at Dodger Stadium, the one who I have the most concern about is Jeremy Guthrie.

If you have been out there live or have seen it on the small screen, it’s needless to say that Jeremy Guthrie has not looked good at all, and the Orioles — for very good reason — want him back in camp.

I know one of the complaints of the World Baseball Classic is that players have not had ample time to prepare for the games, much less go full force in competitive fashion; therefore, there have been injuries and in Guthrie’s case he’s been plain bad. Guthrie is not hurt, but obviously, he’s not ready for the season and should probably be back with the team in order to work with our ace.

From the Guthrie, who started on Opening Day for the Orioles last year and appears to be a lock to do it again in 2009, has had a rough go of it with Team USA. The right-hander has made two appearances and has allowed 14 hits and 10 runs, and Baltimore wants to get him back into a normal routine before the season starts.

The sooner the better for us and for him. We need to get him going,” said pitching coach Rick Kranitz. “I talked to him and he’s ready to go. He’s ready to come back, and he’s ready to join us and pitch. They’re playing two games and they’re taking more time off. They don’t need four starters now and there’s no need for him to be there. It’s all great to go there and root for your team, but you know what? We need to get our staff squared away.”

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“There’s no need for him to just hang out there,” said Kranitz. “He needs to get back here and he needs to pitch. We’ve got three more outings and then the season starts. He needs to catch up on his innings. It’s not so much the pitch total as it is the amount of times he’s been up and down. We need to get him back.”

Baltimore is also doing without shortstop Cesar Izturis and third baseman Melvin Mora, both of whom are playing for Team Venezuela. But the need is more acute for starting pitching, and the Orioles want to do everything they can to protect themselves while also showing respect to the needs of the World Baseball Classic.

It’s pretty obvious that Guthrie started on Wednesday night against Venezuela — in a meaningless game, but important for seeding purposes — as a way to get work in for the regular season. If you saw the results that night, it was not good and he was pounded the week before by the same squad. He will probably not be pitching again in the event, unless in mop-up duty; therefore, I agree with the Orioles on this one.

The World Baseball Classic is awesome for the sport, playing for your country is nice, but his obligations — contractual and otherwise — belong with Baltimore.

He’s too important of a cog in the team’s plans for him to be gone this long.