The Japanese people were thrilled when Japan repeated as World Baseball Classic champions last month, with Major League stars like Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka performing as integral parts of the team. In the interim, however, Ichiro was forced to go on the disabled list with an illness and miss the Seattle Mariners’ first eight games, and Matsuzaka was just put on the disabled list with arm fatigue after two awful starts for the Boston Red Sox.
In my mind, it is absurd to ask the players to perform at peak levels in March, especially with the injury risks to pitchers, and then expect them to play their best over a 162-game schedule from April to October, with the hope of reaching the goal of the postseason. Ichiro is playing under a 5-year $90 million contract through 2012, while the Red Sox have invested $103 million in Matsuzaka over six years. Both players have not lived up to their responsibilities to their respective teams and fans by playing in the WBC.
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