Clayton Kershaw won’t pitch in World Baseball Classic
The best pitcher on the planet will not play in the sport’s premier international competition.
The World Baseball Classic rosters were announced Wednesday, and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw was not included on the United States roster.
The best player in baseball, Angels outfielder Mike Trout, also declined an invitation to play for Team USA.
With Dodger Stadium playing host to the WBC semifinals and finals, Major League Baseball officials had hoped Kershaw would agree to pitch in one of those games, assuming the U.S. qualified.
Mexico included Dodgers phenom Julio Urias on its roster with the hope of using him in later rounds. The Dodgers so carefully monitor the workload of the 20-year-old Urias that it is uncertain whether the team would let him pitch in the WBC.
First baseman Adrian Gonzalez, pitchers Vidal Nuno and Sergio Romo and top outfield prospect Alex Verdugo will represent the Dodgers on the Mexican team.
Utility man Enrique Hernandez will play for Puerto Rico, utility man Rob Segedin for Italy and nonroster infielder Ike Davis for Israel.
The Netherlands has included Dodgers closer Kenley Jansen with the hope of using him in later rounds, although Jansen has said he would not pitch in the WBC.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons will play for the Netherlands. Three Angels relievers — Jose Alvarez, Deolis Guerra and Yusmiero Petit — could pitch for Venezuela.
In an effort to entice Kershaw and other talented pitchers to join the WBC, the rules were adjusted so pitchers could appear in one or two games rather than fully participate in the tournament — and remain away from their major league teams — for as much as three weeks during spring training.
Kershaw said last year — before he sat out two months because of a back injury — that health would be his primary concern.
“It would be awesome to get to represent your country,” Kershaw said then. “But the priority is always the season.”
Japan won the first two editions of the WBC, and the Dominican Republic won the last one.
The U.S. has yet to appear in the championship game, but its lineup could be its best yet: Paul Goldschmidt and Eric Hosmer at first base, Ian Kinsler and Daniel Murphy at second base, Brandon Crawford at shortstop, Nolan Arenado at third base, and Adam Jones, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich in the outfield.
Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy are the primary catchers, with former Dodger A.J. Ellis selected as a third catcher. Chris Archer is the U.S. ace.
The WBC opens March 6, when South Korea plays host to Israel. The U.S. team opens March 10 in Miami, against Colombia.
The semifinals are set March 20 and 21 at Dodger Stadium, with the championship game scheduled there March 22.
Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin
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