To anyone who has followed the Orioles the past few days, I know what you’re asking.
Why in the world is it taking so long for Orioles reliever Luis Ayala to decide whether he’s going to pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic?
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It’s a reasonable question. We’ve been waiting for that news going on three days now. Hopefully, we find out this morning.
But the thing is, we’re not really waiting on Ayala’s decision. From talking to him, it sounds like he wants to represent his home country. In a lot of Latin American countries, participating in the World Baseball Classic involves national pride. Mexican-born Orioles pitcher Miguel Gonzalez’s decision to decline an invitation to pitch for Mexico was a difficult one.
As for Ayala, it seems like his hands are tied. He’s in the middle of a national baseball crisis.
You see, players from the Mexican Baseball League – the country’s professional summer league – are not being allowed to participate in the World Baseball Classic.
How does that affect Ayala, who has been with a major league organization every year since 2003? Well, a Mexican Baseball League team, los Saraperos de Saltillo, still owns Ayala’s rights in Mexico. Before he broke into the majors, he pitched for Saltillo and if he ever needed a job pitching in Mexico during the summer, he could pitch for the Saraperos.
So Ayala falls under the category of Mexican Baseball League players. He wants to represent his country in the WBC, but he’s been held in limbo, waiting for a call from WBC Mexican team pitching coach Teddy Higuera to let him know whether he can play or not.
This story has obviously received a lot of attention in Mexico, where some believe it’s a ploy to make it easier to fill the team’s roster with non-Mexican born major league players who haven't played in the Mexican League.
Meanwhile, Mexico opens pool play March 7 in Phoenix with its roster in flux.