Pitching was always going to be Canada's soft spot at the World Baseball Classic and things are looking worse now that Ryan Dempster has bowed out and Rich Harden is questionable.
The 45-man provisional rosters for all 16 teams at the tournament were unveiled Monday by Major League Baseball, with Dempster's stunning omission the only major surprise from the national team's entry.
Harden's name did make Canada's list but health concerns are putting his participation into serious doubt. The Chicago Sun-Times reported over the weekend that the Cubs right-hander from Victoria has a slight tear in his shoulder, and with US$7 million committed to him in 2009, the NL Central champions aren't likely to be pleased if he pulls on the Maple Leaf jersey.
His absence from the final 28-man roster that's due Feb. 24 would be understandable under those circumstances, but Dempster's is a little tougher to explain.
I don't know of Harden's most recent injury problems have been discussed on here or not, but this may just add a little more fuel.
As you may or may not know, I've been one of Harden's biggest supporters, and I'm still on the fence about the trade, but regardless I still want to see him do well, and this puts a damper on him, the Cubs, and certainly the chances of us folks in the great white north doing well at the WBC.