Brett Lawrie has a problem with Russell Martin’s decision to pass on playing for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic.
Prior to Saturday’s Grapefruit League exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies, the Toronto Blue Jays third baseman and Langley, B.C. native was asked what he thinks about Russell Martin and Ryan Dempster’s decision to pass on the WBC.
Martin surprised many earlier this week by saying no to Team Canada after his request to play shortstop instead of catcher was denied. As for Dempster, the 35-year-old starter he simply won’t be ready in time for the tournament.
In the eyes of Lawrie, one decision is far more justifiable than the other.
“It’s a different situation between Ryan Dempster and Russell Martin because Ryan Dempster obviously has a team that he has to pitch for and he’s got to get ready,” Lawrie told Sportsnet’s Mike Wilner during a pre-game interview on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “It’s different for pitchers because they always have to amp things up and Ryan’s a little bit older, so he has to get his arm ready a little bit earlier and that could be tough for an older guy.”
Then Lawrie turned his attention to Martin.
“But in Russell Martin’s case, it’s a little bit different just because the ultimatum was there that if he wasn’t going to be able to play shortstop, he wasn’t going to come, and in my mind that’s not right, that’s weak,” Lawrie said. “I’m out there going 100 miles an hour, any position. I don’t care if I’m pitching, I’m playing centrefield or I’m catching, it doesn’t matter. Just as long as I get an opportunity to help my teammates, help my country and these are things that don’t come around very often.
“This is every four years; this isn’t an opportunity that just comes around every spring training, so when I do get an opportunity to go out and play for my country, I do it with pride.”
Lawrie made similar comments Friday to Sportsnet’s Jamie Campbell.
Earlier in the week, Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau told Campbell the opportunity to suit up for Team Canada is not an option for him.
“For myself, it’s an honour and a privilege to be able to play for your country,” he said. “It’s not something that’s really a choice for me. Guys have to do what they think is best for them but for me if you’re healthy and you’re asked then it’s not something you really consider turning down.
“There are a lot of people that would die to be in those shoes to have that opportunity. It’s hard for me to see guys turn it down, but that’s their choice.”
Canada opens its 2013 WBC March 8 vs. Italy at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sportsnet East, Ontario, West and Pacific.