Baseball fans were treated to an exciting 2023 World Baseball Classic, one that saw a different level of energy and historic moments never seen before. The final between Team Japan and Team USA was rocking in Miami, and the fantasy Shohei Ohtani vs. Mike Trout faceoff was the perfect ending for Team Japan's win. Baseball fans won around the world, but some KC Royals fans complained about the Royals' players' lack of opportunities in the international event. The issue is valid, as shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. and pitcher Brady Singer joined Team USA and lost out on weeks of valuable spring training action while riding the WBC bench. Pitching coach Brian Sweeney had a differing opinion on Singer's time in the World Baseball Classic.
KC Royals fans grumbled about lacking opportunities for Royals players in the World Baseball Classic. One coach doesn't see an issue.
Sweeney, one of Kansas City's six new coaches, said that he wished Singer was "here the entire camp", but the positives outweigh the negatives.
"Ne regrets for him to be a part of that tournament. There is pretty much nothing like it in the world, to be involved in the [World Baseball Classic]."- Brian Sweeney
Sweeney would know the values of being in the WBC more than most, after playing in the 2013 iteration and then coaching in 2017. Both times were for Team Italy, a country with heavy ties to the Royals in 2023. Team Italy first played in the WBC in 2006 and has never won the international tournament.
Singer made his spring training return against the San Diego Padres on Mar. 23. It will be his first Cactus League appearance since Mar. 6, and only his third overall. Royals fans will be watching his spring training return closely. They did not get many opportunities to see Singer play for Team USA, but that certainly reduced his injury risk, something that Sweeney acknowledges in the WBC.
"I encourage players [to go]. There is a risk, there's inherent risk of injury and guys missing out on time. You know how Brady is. But there is really nothing like it and there is probably a lot of learning that can happen there."- Brian Sweeney
If Singer wants to learn more, learning from Sweeney is a great place to look. 2023 is his first year as an MLB team's pitching coach after he spent 2020-2022 as the Cleveland Guardians' bullpen coach. He brings a proven track record from Cleveland as the Guardians finished 5th, 6th, and 4th among MLB teams in bullpen ERA. Sweeney, along with assistant pitching coach Zach Bove and bullpen coach Mitch Stetter, have a big task in turning the Royals pitching corps around in 2023. With the WBC over, the Royals should be at full strength with all eyes on Opening Day, Mar. 30.