Starting pitcher Joel Piñeiro convened a news conference Wednesday morning to announce he was “heartbroken” and would not play for Team Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic after Puerto Rico’s manager, Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo, informed him he was not in the projected three-man rotation.
“I was very disappointed, very heartbroken. I felt disrespected,” Piñeiro said. “Everybody knows that there have been only two pitchers in Puerto Rico the past eight to 10 years who have been consistent starters — Javier Vazquez and myself. To hear that from (Oquendo), it was such a setback. I’m very disappointed. I can’t believe I’m talking to you guys about this.”
Oquendo went with Vazquez, which makes sense, and Ian Snell and Jonathan Sanchez over Pinero. I certainly don’t know that Snell is any better than Pinero. Sanchez probably is. Given the nature of the tournament, the desire to rile up the home fans, and non-traditional considerations like that, however, I suppose reasonable arguments could be made both for and against Pinero’s inclusion.
But then there’s the whole issue — alluded to in the article — that this is all a bunch of kabuki theater. That Pinero’s manager — Jose Oquendo’s boss — Tony La Russa doesn’t really want Pinero pitching in the Classic and orchestrated all of this to keep him in Cardinals camp. If that isn’t the case — and I’d probably dismiss that out of hand as too dramatic if there was someone other than Tony La Russa involved — then there is going to be some bad blood between Pinero and Oquendo going forward. Actually, my kabuki scenario kind of depends on Pinero not realizing he’s being manipulated, so I suppose there will be bad blood either way. But it would certainly be interesting.
Anyway, this is a problem. Yes, for the Cardinals as a team, but that’s not important to me because couldn’t care less if they win or lose, fight or hug. What I’m really concerned about is that it’s a problem for Jose Oquendo’s managerial prospects in that, if he’s seen as a guy who causes trouble, maybe someone will think twice before giving him a job. This would be really bad because for silly childhood reasons I like Jose Oquendo an awful, awful lot, and I want to see him managing someday soon.