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“I have decided to decline this year’s WBC event,” Votto said in a statement. “There were some aspects of my performance in 2016 that I have decided were lacking. I would like to use 2017 spring training for preparation.
“I am thankful to the Baseball Canada program for inviting me to join the team. It is an honor to represent my country. I made this decision with much reflection because of the pride I have wearing the Canadian flag on my uniform.”
Votto, who represented Canada at the 2013 and 2009 tournament, is one of the premier Canadian players currently in the majors and would have been a core piece of the country’s lineup at the WBC.
The 33-year-old slashed .326/.434/.550 with 29 home runs, 34 doubles, and 97 RBIs in 158 games for the Reds last season, hitting .408/.490/.668 in 72 games following the All-Star break.
While the news is a major blow for Canada, they still could add Freddie Freeman and Justin Morneau to play the position. All-Star catcher Russell Martin and outfielder Michael Saunders have already committed to play, though right-hander Jameson Taillon has declined.
Canada is in tough with tournament favorites, the United States and Dominican Republic in their group along with Colombia.