By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Toronto Blue Jays’ catcher Alejandro Kirk will be unable to play for team Mexico at the World Baseball Classic. Kirk and his wife are expecting the birth of their child any day now, and he has decided that he needs to be by her side through her pregnancy.
With Kirk’s absence from the team, Los Angeles Dodgers’ catcher Austin Barnes should see the bulk of the playing time behind the dish for Mexico. Barnes hit .212 with eight home runs in the backup position for the Dodgers. Kirk, a first-time All-Star in 2022 with Toronto, was likely to be the starting catcher for Mexico.
Kirk is a career .278 hitter at the plate, and has hit 23 home runs in 541 plate appearances. His caught stealing percentage in 2022 was 26%, indicating he threw out 26% of the baserunners that attempted to steal bases on him.
Alejandro Kirk will also miss a portion of time at spring training with the Blue Jays. He will have to get acclimated to the new Major League Baseball pitch clock rules as both a catcher and hitter later than most this spring. Unlike the MLB, the World Baseball Classic is not adapting to the new rule changes, and all MLB players competing in the WBC will have to make the quick transition once the event concludes.
Toronto Blue Jays’ manager John Schneider provided insight on what led Kirk to his decision to not participate. “We decided collectively probably best to not do the WBC… “That’s the decision that he came to. As soon as the baby comes, he’s coming right to camp and he’ll be here.”
Kirk was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and has grown into a fan favorite in Toronto. The 24-year-old was first noticed by Toronto Blue Jays scout Dean Decillis, and only played as high as Single-A in the minors before debuting at the major league level with Toronto in 2020. With a long career ahead of him, Kirk will undoubtedly have other opportunities to represent Mexico in the World Baseball Classic , if he chooses to do so.
Mexico joins the USA, Colombia, Canada, and Great Britain in Pool C in Phoenix, Arizona.Their first game will be on March 11, at 2:30 p.m. ET against Colombia. Los Angeles Dodgers’ ace Julio Urias is the assumed starting pitcher for Mexico. All games in Pool C will be played from March 11-15 at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks.