Melky Mesa has told the Yankees and Team Dominican Republic that he no longer plans to play in the World Baseball Classic.
I was told that the Yankees did not encourage Mesa to back out — the team actually thinks Mesa would get a chance to play in the WBC and wouldn’t hurt his chances of winning a big league job — but Mesa seems to prefer staying with the Yankees and trying to take advantage of that opening in left field. In the past week, Mesa has apparently gone back and forth with the decision before ultimately deciding to stay with the Yankees.
Mesa has played well this spring. Yesterday he hit his second home run and stole his second base. He’s the only player in camp with more than one of either statistic. He also leads the team with four RBI, and he’s shown an ability to play both left field and center. It’s too early to have a great feel for who the Yankees might choose to temporarily fill in for Curtis Granderson, but so far, Mesa’s made a solid case.
Earlier in the week — a day after the Granderson injury — Mesa seemed committed to playing for Team Dominican Republic.
“If I (am) in the position to say yes, who wouldn’t want to play for their country?” Mesa said. “I just try to work hard. I can’t control the result. If the Yankees say (don’t go to the WBC), I stay. I just try to play hard. I can’t control what’s going to happen in the future.”
Turns out he could control his future, and for now, he’s decided to stay.
• Tomorrow’s travel roster to Fort Myers is predictably light on big leaguers. The most significant events will be here in Tampa where Andy Pettitte and Mariano Rivera are both facing hitters, and Phil Hughes is likely playing catch for the first time in two weeks.
• The only big league regular on tomorrow’s travel roster is — of course — Brett Gardner, who always seems to draw the short straw and travel. Gardner has embraced the role. Said he actually volunteered to make the trip.
• The Yankees are meeting with the Baseball Assistance Team (B.A.T.) this morning. Probably going to be a while before the workout gets started.
• Mark Montgomery is scheduled to make his second spring appearance today. Also, Corban Joseph is scheduled to play second base for the first time this spring.
• Shane Greene, Dellin Betances, Brett Marshall and Mike O’Brien are throwing sides today.
• Corey Black is throwing batting practice, facing Walter Ibarra and Jose Pirela.
• Tomorrow’s sides: Cody Eppley, Jim Miller, Vidal Nuno, Hiroki Kuroda, Dave Robertson and Joba Chamberlain.
• Tomorrow’s batting practice/simulated games: Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte and Matt Tracy.
• Today’s second string: C Kyle Higashioka, 1B Luke Murton, 2B Corban Joseph, SS Gil Velazquez, 3B Dan Johnson, LF Ramon Flores, CF Adonis Garcia, RF Tyler Austin, DH Francisco Arcia.
• Today’s scheduled relievers: Clay Rapada, David Aardsma, Shawn Kelley, Mark Montgomery, Matt Daley and Francisco Rondon.
• Tomorrow’s travel squad
Pitchers: Juan Cedeno, Preston Claiborne, Kelvin Perez, Branden Pinder, Ryan Pope, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Rondon, Josh Spence, Adam Warren, Chase Whitley
Catchers: J.R. Murphy, Austin Romine, Bobby Wilson
Infielders: Greg Bird, Cito Culver, Dan Johnson, Corban Joseph, Addison Maruszak, Luke Murton, Jayson Nix, Eduardo Nunez, Jose Pirela, Kyle Roller, Rob Segedin
Outfielders: Zoilo Almonte, Tyler Austin, Ramon Flores, Adonis Garcia, Brett Gardner, Melky Mesa, Ronnier Mustelier, Thomas Neal, Juan Rivera
Omar Infante 2B
Torii Hunter RF
Andy Dirks CF
Don Kelly 1B
Kevin Russo 3B
Brayan Pena C
Nick Castellanos LF
Danny Worth SS
Ramon Cabrera DH
Associated Press photos