Survey says … most fans OK with players in WBC

This has been a little different spring with the World Baseball Classic going on, something that only happens every four years now and definitely changes the dynamic for a few players and teams during Spring Training.

The Mariners only had three of their Major League players take part, but those guys certainly had an impact with Michael Saunders enjoying his MVP performance for Canada, Oliver Perez getting entangled in Mexico’s brawl with Canada, and Alex Liddi still playing for the surprising Italian team as it carries on in the second round in Miami.

Other teams have been far more impacted. The Brewers, for instance, had 12 players taking part in WBC games, including nine from their 40-man roster.

The Mariners would certainly have felt more of a pinch if Felix Hernandez had chosen to play for Venezuela this spring, a decision he changed after agreeing to his new $175 million contract.

Given the way Hernandez is just now ramping up his innings and pitch count, it indeed would have been a little different story had he needed to be going full bore for Venezuela a week earlier.

That’s the challenge of the WBC and MLB, getting players ready in time to play games ahead of schedule. Saunders said he’s ready to go today with regular-season action and feels the experience was beneficial. We’ll see if he can maintain that peak performance now and come out firing again when it counts in April.

But the whole issue intrigues me, so I did a quick Twitter poll last night, asking fans to vote on whether they’d prefer that players on the team they support would skip or play in the WBC.

Of the 90 responses I got in the next hour, here’s the breakdown:

Play — 58 percent
Skip- — 29 percent
Have position players play and pitches skip — 11 percent
Neutral — 2 percent.

Interestingly, I didn’t even offer the option of having position players play and pitchers skip, but that decision resonated with quite a few respondents. It makes sense on one hand (as with Felix), but it’s tough to hold a baseball tournament without pitchers.

Obviously you can use just non-Major League pitchers, but that changes things quite a bit. Most of my Twitter followers are Mariners fans, so my poll might have been skewed by Saunders’ performance as well. Surely Mariners fans enjoyed seeing his outstanding effort for Canada and relished that opportunity for him to shine.

At any rate, a majority of fans indicated they like seeing their players compete in the WBC. And I learned that Twitter is a pretty easy way to test the waters on such questions, so I’ll probably do more Twitter polls in the future.

If you’d like to follow, my Twitter account is GregJohnsMLB.

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