Having never finished better than fourth place in three World Baseball Classic tournaments, Team USA figured to change their fortunes in 2017. Several elite players have committed to represent the United States, most recently Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Washington Nationals second baseman Daniel Murphy.
The team’s roster size grew to 13 players with the aforementioned duo, with a pitching staff headlined by Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Chris Archer and Nationals ace Max Scherzer. Scherzer committed to Team USA in November, and expressed excitement over reuniting with his former Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland.
However, after an MRI in December revealed a stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger, Scherzer has withdrawn from pitching in the WBC, per
Jorge Castillo of The Washington Post:
Nationals ace Max Scherzer, one of the first and highest-profile players to commit to play for the United States in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, will not participate in the tournament because of “the ongoing rehabilitation stress fracture in the knuckle of his right ring finger,” the club announced Monday afternoon in a statement. The Nationals added that the 32-year-old Scherzer is expected “to be a full participant” in spring training, which begins Feb. 14 for pitchers and catchers in West Palm Beach, Fla.
Once news of the decision spread, Scherzer posted a message on Twitter explaining he’d pitched through discomfort since last August and was diagnosed with a finger sprain. Lingering pain led to a second MRI last month that revealed the fracture.
Although Scherzer is no longer in the fold, Team USA may receive commitments from Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw and/or Madison Bumgarner of the San Francisco Giants. A new rule put in place allows teams to create a pitcher pool and add up to two pitchers between each WBC round.
Pool C play, which includes the United States team, begins March 10 at Marlins Park. Dodger Stadium will host the semifinals and final March 20-22.