February 21, 2017
By Scott Barancik, editor
When Team Israel announced its 28-man roster for the World Baseball Classic a couple weeks ago, Craig Breslow was on the list. The veteran Major League hurler would anchor Israel’s bullpen during the March tournament in South Korea, equipped with a nearly side-armed delivery he honed during the off-season.
But now that he’s legitimately fighting for a bullpen spot with the Minnesota Twins, Breslow feels he can’t afford to leave Spring Training for the WBC. It’s great news for the 11-year MLB veteran, if not so much for Team Israel. But this is what happens when Major League Baseball — which owns the World Baseball Classic — schedules the tourney during Spring Training. Several other Jewish prospects turned down Team Israel’s invite this year because, like Breslow, they expected to be fighting for a roster slot.
Alex Jacobs, Team Israel’s director of player personnel and a scout for the Houston Astros, says he and his colleagues were neither shocked nor upset by Breslow’s dcision.
“We’re extraordinarily excited for Craig wish him nothing but the best of luck in his endeavors to make the Minnesota Twins’ opening day roster,” Jacobs said. “Was this a surprise to us? No, Craig was very forthcoming with us on his intentions, and although he is disappointed he can’t play for Israel, he felt this was the best for his career, and we agree. If we advance far enough in the WBC and Craig’s comfortable enough to join us later, we’ll certainly welcome his talents.”
The good news for Team Israel is that Zack Thornton, a newly-identified Jewish player with the New York Mets’ Triple-A club, has agreed to replace Breslow on the WBC roster.
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