During Spring Training and prior to the regular season beginning, multiple teams will see their players participating in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. For the Los Angeles Dodgers, that includes Adrian Gonzalez and potentially Clayton Kershaw and Corey Seager.
Yasiel Puig was hopeful to play for Mexico, where he established residency after defecting from Cuba, but failed to submit the necessary paperwork in time. While multiple countries will field rosters with Major Leaguers, that doesn’t hold true for the Cuban national team.
Although the U.S. moved to normalize relations with the island, Cuban defectors still are not permitted to represent the country during international player. Although Puig envisioned joining Gonzalez on Team Mexico, he remains attached to his homeland.
“That’s my dream right now, to go back and play for the Cuban team,” Puig said in an episode of of “MLB Network Presents” titled, “Cuba: Island of Baseball.”
The 26-year-old, along several other Cuban natives participated in the MLB goodwill tour in their native country last December. The tour was MLB’s first visit to Cuba since the Baltimore Orioles faced the Cuban National Team in an exhibition game in March 1999.
It also marked the first trip back to Cuba for Puig, Jose Abreu, Jon Jay and others, since their defections. There’s hope the situation and circumstances will soon change for Cuban defectors.
Pools A and B open WBC play on March 17, 2017, with games played at the Tokyo Dome and Gocheok Sky Dome, respectively. Dodger Stadium will host the semifinals and final from March 20-22.
The Dodgers may also be represented by Kenta Maeda, should he elect to pitch for Team Japan. Julio Urias has previously expressed an interest to join Gonzalez in representing Mexico, but it’s unclear if the Dodgers would grant Urias permission.