2006_01_swbc.gifYesterday, Billy Wagner, the new Mets closer announced that he was dropping out of the inaugural World Baseball Classic. CC Sabathia of the Cleveland Indians is also stepping aside, which is potentially a bigger problem for the United States than Wagner not playing. The US team now only has 3 starting pitchers - Jake Peavy, Dontrelle Willis and Roger Clemens - potentially a problem considering all the rules on the books. Lucky for the United States, they only have three games in pool play.

Wagner and Sabathia are far from the only big names to have dropped out or remove themselves from a potential list of players. Manny Ramirez from the Red Sox won't be playing, neither will Barry Bonds from the Giants. Pedro Martinez, who only recently started to throw from the mound, probably won't be ready for the Classic because of his problematic big toe. The Yankees, however, are a mixed bag. Some members like Randy Johnson, Jorge Posada, and Hideki Matsui are sitting out, while Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Johnny Damon and Bernie Williams are playing.

The WBC starts pool play tomorrow in Tokyo as Korea plays Chinese Taipei in Pool A. The United States starts play next week in Pool B. The full schedule is on the WBC website.