JUPITER, Fla. — When Team USA beat the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic late on Saturday night, it prolonged the absence of key Washington Nationals Tanner Roark and Daniel Murphy — and prolonged some stress for Dusty Baker, who is ready to get both of them on their normal spring schedule.
Baker did not stay up for the game, which lasted long past midnight on the East Coast and did not include Roark or Murphy — a fact that made Baker unhappy when he heard about it on Sunday morning. Most of the U.S.’s games have not included either Roark or Murphy, something Baker voiced concerns about earlier this week. Roark has pitched once in six games, for 1 1/3 innings. Baker said Sunday he understands Roark is scheduled to pitch the semifinal against Japan on Tuesday night. He also said he has heard things like that before.
“I’ve heard he was going to pitch before that,” said Baker, who was told Roark was going to pitch at some point last week, then start this weekend. Roark did neither.
Murphy has started two games as Team USA’s designated hitter, and has six at-bats in six games. Were he playing with the Nationals, he would get six at-bats in two days or so. Now, he will go at least two days without live at-bats. If manager Jim Leyland’s lineups throughout the tournament are any indication, he may go three days.
If the United States loses, Murphy and Roark would probably return to camp Thursday. If it wins, they probably would return Friday. The Nationals fly to D.C. next Thursday night, meaning Murphy and Roark have about a week of Florida time to get ready for the season. Baker admitted he might have to ease Murphy into action, and might have to alter his lineup to give him time.
“That’s not long enough,” Baker said Sunday. “That’s why I said I’m going to have to revamp my lineup until he starts swinging better, because he didn’t have his stroke together when he left. Can’t get it sitting, and you can’t get it really taking BP. You got to get some live pitching.”
Meanwhile, Michael A. Taylor was away from the team for the second consecutive day on Sunday, tending to a family matter. Baker said he thinks Taylor might be away a few days, though he told the 25-year-old roster hopeful to take as much time as he needs.
Jose Lobaton, who has not played in a Grapefruit League game since March 11, dealt with discomfort in his left wrist and forearm area, and took a few days off last week. Lobaton landed on the disabled list with tendinitis in his left elbow last summer, but said this spring’s trouble was not the same. The Nationals’ backup catcher will play in a minor league game Sunday, where he will catch Joe Blanton, Blake Treinen and Jacob Turner. Baker expects Lobaton to catch Monday against the Yankees. Jayson Werth, who sat out Saturday with knee soreness, is also expected back in action Monday.