Yan Gomes - USA TODAY Sports
As you read in westbrook's news post this morning, Yan Gomes may skip playing for his native Brazil in the World Baseball Classic as missing the several weeks of training camp will hurt his chances of making the Indians.
Gomes was the first player from Brazil to appear in a major-league game when he started at third base for Toronto in a game last May. But he's no lock to join the Indians, and most likely will go to AAA to start the season. So that's why playing in spring training games with Cleveland are so important; this might be the last opportunity for quite a while to play against major-league competition, even if it's in games that don't count. He did help Brazil qualify for the WBC last November, which was quite an upset, as they defeated both Colombia and Panama to make the tournament. Baseball didn't catch on in Brazil like it did in Venezuela, Columbia or other countries that border the Caribbean, but the potential is there for the country to become a power in future years:
Major League Baseball has paid close attention to the impact that Team Brazil has had on the development in baseball in the country. "We couldn’t have spent tens of millions of dollars and had the same impact on a country like Brazil," said Tim Brosnan, Executive Vice President, Business at Major League Baseball to Forbes.com. "Forty-four million people are going to be added to the middle class in Brazil in the next decade. Brazil’s ability to compete at the top level is the biggest home run we’ve hit thus far with the WBC."
For a 25-year-old player on the cusp of the majors, every opportunity to impress the major-league staff needs to be taken advantage of, but it's too bad this will probably cost him a chance of playing for his country in the WBC. That Gomes had to make a choice between playing in the WBC and making his pro team is a flaw in the competition, but unless MLB and the other professional sports (most notably the NPB) agree to suspend their seasons in the middle of the summer, playing it before regular season competition begins is the only real time to play it.
Until the World Baseball Classic was formed less than a decade ago, there was no national team tournament that featured professional players; baseball (and softball) were removed from the Olympics largely because MLB and other professional league wouldn't send their players to participate. So even with the inherent problems of playing in March, it's much better than not having it at all. The WBC is a great opportunity to showcase the sport to countries that normally wouldn't pay much attention to it.
Here's a list of present (and former) Indians that are presently listed on WBC rosters:
Tony Pena (manager)
Felix Fermin (coach)
Bert Blyleven (coach)
Jose De la Torre
Carlos Baerga (coach)