Don Mattingly: World Baseball Classic good for growth of MLB

USA TODAY Sports

The Dodgers will lose five players from camp to the World Baseball Classic.

Saturday, in Peoria as the Dodgers face the Mariners, is the final game for both Hanley Ramirez and Ronald Belisario before reporting to their respective World Baseball Classic teams on Monday. Ramirez and the Dominican Republic will face Belisario and Venezuela on Friday, Mar. 7.

In addition to Ramirez and Belisario, the Dodgers have Adrian Gonzalez and Luis Cruz playing for Mexico, and Nick Punto for Italy. The latter three will play for the Dodgers on Sunday before reporting Monday to their respective WBC teams.

"We talked to all those guys," Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said. "Obviously we want them to do well, but they also have a responsibility to the guys back here to continue to work."

Mattingly said he wouldn't root against his players in the WBC just so they could return to camp earlier, that he wanted them to do well.

"If you ask every manager and general manager if they would rather have their players in camp, yes we'd rather have them here with us," Mattingly said. "But in the big picture of things, you don't want to stand in the way of the growth of the game internationally, and that's what the WBC represents.

"I think we have to sacrifice our guys being gone, but the guys are playing baseball. It's not like they're out playing basketball."

Mattingly said had the WBC existed when he played he would have enjoyed the opportunity.

"I would have liked to have played in it. It would have been fun," Mattingly said. "It's a good thing, you get to represent your country and you want to be a part of that."

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