Venezuela moved to 3-0 in the 2023 World Baseball Classic on Tuesday, defeating Nicaragua by a 4-1 final. Detroit Tigers lefty Eduardo Rodriguez held the Nicaraguans to one run on seven hits over two frames, bending but not breaking before handing the game over to the bullpen. The Venezuelans will next wrap up pool play on Wednesday against Israel. With a win, they'll join Japan as the only teams to go undefeated during the tournament's first phase.
Regardless of whether or not Venezuela continues its winning ways, it appears Eduardo Rodriguez's tournament might be over. Manager Omar Lopez told reporters, including ESPN's Alden Gonzalez, that the Tigers have mandated Rodriguez not pitch again this tournament. Lopez said he intends to ask Detroit's front office for an exception if Venezuela reaches the WBC Final, as that would be the next time Rodriguez would be in line to pitch (March 21).
Rodriguez, 30 come April 7, had a forgettable first season with the Tigers after signing a five-year pact worth $77 million as a free agent. He started just 17 times in 2022, amassing a 4.05 ERA (93 ERA+) and a 2.12 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 91 innings. Rodriguez did not pitch for the Tigers from May 19 until Aug. 21, instead leaving the team to deal with personal matters.
Rodriguez might not be the only Tigers player whose availability for Venezuela is being influenced by Detroit's front office. ESPN's Marly Rivera reported on Tuesday that Miguel Cabrera may face limited playing time as part of his continued participation in the tournament. (Rivera has since added that a league source denied the Tigers have placed any restrictions on Cabrera.)
Cabrera's inclusion in the WBC in any form is notable. As Jorge Castillo of the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this spring, the Tigers waived the insurance requirement for Cabrera because they knew how much participating in the WBC meant to him. The 2023 season will be Cabrera's final big-league campaign. He has served as Venezuela's designated hitter in the team's last two games.