With so many players — household names and otherwise — bailing on the World Baseball Classic, it’s refreshing to read an account from a big leaguer annoyed he’s not taking part. The Boston Herald’s Jeff Horrigan speaks with Red Sox SS Alex Gonzalez, who hit .409 for Venezuela in the most recent Carribean World Series.

The problem, according to the former National League All-Star, stemmed from the misleading statements, if not outright lies, from Venezuela manager Luis Sojo. Gonzalez (above) said he spoke with him Wednesday and directly asked him if he was on the team before beginning his drive of more than three hours north to Clearwater.

˜˜I asked if I™m on the team and he said, ˜Yeah, 100 percent,™  Gonzalez said. ˜˜He said, ˜You have a reservation at the (Tampa) Marriott hotel™ and he said he was excited to have me and to train good.

He phoned after reaching the hotel and left a message for Sojo but went to sleep without hearing back.

˜˜He left a voice mail at 1 in the morning, after I™d gone to sleep, Gonzalez said. ˜˜He said, ˜Alex, we had a meeting with the all the coaches and staff and we had to take one player off the roster. It was you.™ He said, ˜I™ll call you back,™ but he never called back. I haven™t spoken with him. I don™t know if he didn™t want to speak with me or not.

Carlos Beltran just singled off Billy Wagner to drive in a pair of runs for Puerto Rico, who are leading the Mets, 3-1 in Port St. Lucie after 5 innings. Another Mets squad is currently trailing the Dodgers, 15-0 in Vero Beach. Charley Steiner has tried to invoke the mercy rule, but given that he’s still employed, the rule oughta be redefined.

Former Minnesota OF Kirby Puckett has been hospitalized after suffering a stroke. Always quick to kick a guy when he’s down, the Human Whoopee Cushion’s weekend understudy couldn’t resist a gratuitous mention of Puckett’s post-baseball legal troubles, though given that Kirby was acquitted of all charges, this was a fairly creepy aside to toss in when the former Twin might be, y’know, dying.