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"When you can have that type of player, to not have him is difficult. But I understand that there are a lot of things to think about when you decide to play outside your normal situation as a professional athlete."

To those who suggest that Dempster acted out of loyalty to the team that just guaranteed him $52 million rather than loyalty to his country, the pitcher replied, "You're darn right."

Dempster said that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry, manager Lou Piniella and pitching coach Larry Rothschild all told him that they would support him if he wanted to play. But as Dempster said, referring to his past arm trouble, "I've been down this road before."

"I've had elbow reconstruction and fought all the way back," Dempster said. "To throw that many innings, for me, I feel like I need the extra rest. Whether people view it as right or not, I feel an obligation to the Cubs. They made a commitment to me."

Dempster said that while young Canadian hockey players dream of playing for Team Canada, baseball lacks the same tradition of international competition in his country.

The sport is more popular in Latin America, and Dempster expressed concern that Cubs pitcher Carlos Zambrano, a Venezuelan, and Carlos Marmol, a Dominican, face enormous pressure to play in the WBC.

"A guy like Marmol, he threw the eighth inning in a winter-league game last night. He may play for the Dominican, then close for us," Dempster said. "Maybe he has a stretch in May where he might be a little tired and gets booed off the mound. How fair is that?"

It's not fair, but major-league executives and union officials want to give baseball a greater international presence, and that's that.

Alas, the consequences for players only seem to be increasing.

Pitchers, in particular, not only risk a greater chance of injury if they participate, but also damage to their reputations if they do not.

Not fair. Not fair at all.


Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: January 27, 2009

Philadelphia Phillies News

News » Cubs over country? Dempster's difficult choice 2009-01-27


Cubs over country? Dempster's difficult choice 2009-01-27


Cubs over country? Dempster's difficult choice 2009-01-27
I love the World Baseball Classic, but I don't love that it puts certain players in no-win positions, forcing them to choose between their country and team.

As the WBC gets bigger, the pressure on players to participate only will increase. Those who sit out already get criticized, sometimes unfairly.

Consider Cubs right-hander Ryan Dempster, who is being denounced in his native Canada for his refusal to spend part of spring training competing in the WBC.

"I love where I'm from. Every day when I put on the major-league uniform, I represent Canada," Dempster told FOXSports.com.

"I respect the game. I play hard. Now I'm getting criticized in Canada for the first time in my career just because I choose not to play in an exhibition tournament. How crazy is that?"

The Cubs did not discourage Dempster from playing in the WBC; the pitcher made his own decision to skip the tournament, for reasons that are perfectly logical.

Dempster, 31, wants to do everything possible to avoid injury as he begins the first year of a new four-year, $52 million free-agent contract.

But Larry Walker, perhaps the best position player in Canadian history, is among those criticizing Dempster for declining to represent his country.

"Both the club and player have their own point of view, but the player gets to wear a jersey with 'Canada' across it," Walker told the Toronto Sun. "I wish they had it when I was playing."

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