Trey Mancini was officially introduced as the newest member of the Cubs on Monday and fans are already getting a sense that he’ll be one of the team leaders in 2023. It’s always difficult coming to a new team, meeting new teammates and coaches, so Mancini is now fully committing to be around the Cubs throughout all of spring training.
Mancini told media that he will no longer be participating in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, representing Italy in March and will instead be in Cubs camp from start to finish leading up to Opening Day. As one of the more experienced players on this year’s team, Mancini wants to be a guide for the younger players on the roster.
That’s good to hear for Cubs fans, as Mancini is already showing he’s fully committing to helping out this team, but there are some upset over Mancini backing out from playing for Italy in the World Baseball Classic. He’s taking full responsibility, saying he should not have been quick to say yes.
Mancini, who will be 31 by Opening Day, also said he expects to play multiple positions for the Cubs this season. The right-handed hitter will be an option at designated hitter, first base, left field and right field for David Ross. During his six-year career, Mancini has played at least 100 games at first base and the corner outfield spots.
The World Baseball Classic is back for first time since 2017, and with Mancini no longer going the Cubs have 11 players participating in the international tournament. The 2023 World Baseball Classic takes place between March 8-21, with games taking place in the United States, Taiwan and Japan.
Here are the 20 countries playing in this year’s WBC broken down by the four groups they are in to begin the competition.
The 11 players currently in the Cubs organization will represent eight different nations in the World Baseball Classic. Out of the participants, two are guaranteed to be on the Opening Day roster for the Cubs in Marcus Stroman and Seiya Suzuki, while a few others may also make the team. There are also a couple notable prospects playing in the tournament, with left-handed hitters Matt Mervis and Owen Casissie playing for Israel and Canada, respectively.
Mexico has the most Cubs players on its team with three.
The 2021 World Baseball Classic was canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The last time the tournament took place was in 2017, when the United States beat Puerto Rico in the finals. Current Cubs starting pitcher Marcus Stroman was named MVP of the 2017 WBC after pitching six shutout innings and carrying a no-hitter into the seventh inning in the USA’s 8-0 win in the championship game.
During the 2022 season, Stroman talked about why he chose to play for Puerto Rico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
Via the Chicago Sun-Times.
But Stroman — whose mom, Adlin Auffant, is Puerto Rican — is eligible to play for two countries. Earlier this week, Stroman announced on Twitter that he was joining Team Puerto Rico for the 2023 WBC.
‘‘I’m big into intuition,’’ said Stroman, who acknowledged there were other factors that he rather would leave unsaid. ‘‘So it just felt right. Felt like I needed to play for Puerto Rico. . . . I’m excited. I’m excited to play for Puerto Rico and represent my mother’s side.’’
‘‘I talked to my mom about it,’’ Stroman said. ‘‘Initially, she was very hesitant, resistant. And then we had another few talks, and she ended up being happy that I was going to go out there and represent her. My mom is [my] heart. So as long as Mom is happy, that’s all that matters, to be honest with you.’’
It’ll be interesting if performances from a few of these guys catapults them onto the Cubs Opening Day roster. Unlike spring training exhibitions, these World Baseball Classic games are more competitive. Maybe Matt Mervis continues to mash and forces the Cubs’ hand. Or how about left-hander Roenis Elías keeps up his great run this winter and is a stud for Cuba and wins a job in the bullpen.
At the very least, Cubs fans will have something else to watch besides Cactus League action in March.