Japan won the World Baseball Classic in March, beating the U.S.A in the semifinals and then South Korea in the finals. Their team is filled with many Major Leaguers and many more who are good enough to be. They played as if this were their World Series and they wanted to win, no matter what it took.
What it took was a toll on their bodies. Many of them weren’t ready to play yet and despite their successes in the WBC, several are falling by the wayside right now. Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuzaka, Hiroki Kuroda and Kenji Johjima have all been to the DL in April and Koji Uehara is questionable for his next start.
Not all Japanese Major Leaguers who played in the WBC are injured or sucking wind right now. Kosuke Fukudome (.338/4/15) is having the type of season the Cubs were expecting every year when they signed him before the 2008 season and Aki Iwamura (.295/0/9/5) is playing well for Tampa Bay.
Along with Dice-K, here are some pitchers that pitched in the WBC and are currently injured: Jorge Campillo, Jose Valverde, Joakim Soria, Rick VandenHurk, Jesse Crain and Ryan Rowland-Smith. Also you have to question whether the struggles of Oliver Perez, Jake Peavy, Ian Snell, Carlos Marmol and Manny Corpas are due to too much work this early in the season. Catchers have also taken a beating, seeing Johjima, Brian McCann and Carlos Ruiz go to the DL.
Not every WBC pitcher is struggling as Javier Vazquez and Felix Hernandez look like they are in the best form of their lives, but can they sustain it for another five months as they’ve already been going hard for the last three months? It would be wise to stay away from most WBC pitchers, regardless of nation.