Blue Jays: World Baseball Classic decision looms for Jays and Alejandro Kirk
With Spring Training well underway, there is one notable absence from the Blue Jays' camp.
Alejandro Kirk, one-half of the catching duo the Jays are relying on in 2023, still hasn't checked in to the team's Dunedin complex as he awaits the birth of his first child.
In a normal year, this wouldn't raise such an alarm. But with Kirk slated to represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic (WBC) in March, the team has begun questioning whether he has enough time to prepare for the regular season and play in the WBC.
Per Kaitlyn McGrath of The Athletic, manager John Schneider admits that time is running out for the Jays to decide on the catcher's participation in the WBC.
Pitchers and catchers playing in the WBC reported on Feb. 13, a few days before the normal Feb. 16. reporting date. Kirk missed both those dates, and there's still no indication of when he might arrive.
As Keegan Matheson of MLB.com reports, the team fully supported Kirk missing the start of camp to be with his family until the baby arrived.
Aside from having to ramp up at the plate and get his bat game-ready, Kirk also has some new battery mates to get familiar with after the offseason additions of starter Chris Bassitt and reliever Erik Swanson.
Adding to the already hectic schedule for WBC participants is the need to get comfortable with the new rule changes, especially the pitch timer.
Coming into his second full season, the 2022 All-Star and Silver Slugger award winner projects to be an integral part of the team, both at the plate and behind it, so the Jays will have to make a decision soon.
Team Mexico plays its first game of the WBC on March 11 in Phoenix, so there's still time for Kirk to make it to camp and meet his Mexican teammates before the tournament. But with the Jays focused on making the most of their competitive window this season, you can be sure they will put the team's needs first.