The big thing out of Jupiter Florida yesterday was Cardinals’ fifth starter Joel Pineiro announcing he is pulling out of the World Baseball Classic and will not represent his home country of Puerto Rico. 

PR’s manager told Pineiro he would not be one of his three starters and Pineiro would be used out of the bullpen.  Pineiro was hurt by the news and felt that would also hurt his preparation for the regular season which is a good point. 

What makes this story interesting is the manager for Puerto Rico is Cardinals’ third base coach Jose Oquendo.  With the format and number of games of the tournament, no more than three starters are needed, and Oquendo said he was making the best decision for the Puerto Rican team. 

There is obviously some friction now between the two as Pineiro said he felt disrespected.  I understand Oquendo’s thinking from a baseball sense for the tournament, but in the bigger picture of this whole thing, Oquendo needs to think outside the diamond on this.

Here is one of your players from your major league squad and you’ve basically told him he’s not one of the top pitchers from your country.  Now, you could say Oquendo won’t have much interaction with Pineiro with the exception of the rare times that Pineiro is running the bases and makes it to third.  Think about this.  What happens after this season if LaRussa retires and the Cardinals name Oquendo as the manager?  What happens with that relationship now?  The Cards have too much tied into Pineiro who overcame injuries and went 7-7 last year after a trade from Boston in 2007.  Plus, Pineiro is a starter.  This World Baseball Classic is a great way to showcase teams from around the globe, but the major leaguers on these squads still need to treat these games as prep for the April season opener. 

I think the decision causes tension in the Cardinals’ clubhouse and certainly tension between Pineiro and any future relations with Oquendo.