By Eduardo A. Encina
The Baltimore Sun
9:39 PM EST, January 11, 2013
Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez has been invited to pitch for Mexico in this spring’s World Baseball Classic.
Gonzalez, who was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, but spent most of his childhood in Southern California, said he is waiting for the Orioles’ approval to play.
“I would like to represent Mexico, of course,” Gonzalez said.”It all depends on what the Orioles tell me, if it’s OK to go. … They called me from the front office and they asked me if I’d be willing to play for Mexico, and I told them I would but it all depends on whatever you guys tell me, if it’s OK to go or not. I’m just waiting on that.”
The Orioles signed the 28-year-old last March as a minor league free agent after watching him pitch for Mazatlan of the Mexican League. He dominated hitters at Triple-A Norfolk and by the end of the season was one of the Orioles’ most dependable starters, going 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 big-league games (15 starts).
This time last year, Gonzalez had been released by the Red Sox and was looking for another opportunity to break into the big leagues. Now, he could be pitching for Mexico on a world stage.
“I don’t think anybody was interested in me last year,” Gonzalez said with a laugh. “I’m happy with what happened in 2012. I was happy with everything and I’m excited for the opportunity.”
Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said Friday that he has accepted an invitation to play for the United States in the WBC. Closer Jim Johnson also received an invitation to play for the United States, but he declined because he’s coming off a spring in which he battled back issues.
Gonzalez is coming off a year in which he pitched a total of 220 innings between the Mexican League, the minors and the majors, the highest total of his pro career. Toward the end of last season, the Orioles made a concerted effort to give Gonzalez extra off days down the stretch
So to pitch in the WBC, Gonzalez would have to be in game form by the second week of March. Mexico shares a pool with the United States, Canada and Italy.
About the World Baseball Classic
For the third time, baseball will crown a world champion as 16 nations compete in a pool-play tournament held from March 2-19. Japan won the first two WBCs, held in 2006 and 2009. Here’s a look at this year’s field:
Pool A (games played in Fukuoka, Japan): Brazil, China, Cuba, Japan
Pool B (Taichung, Taiwan): Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Netherlands
Pool C (San Juan, Puerto Rico): Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela
Pool D (Phoenix): Canada, Italy, Mexico, United States
The top two teams in Pool A and the top two teams in Pool B will play a double-elimination second round in Tokyo with the top two teams from that advancing. The top two teams in Pool C and the top two teams in Pool D play a double-elimination second round in Miami with two teams advancing. The semifinals and finals will be held in San Francisco.
For more information visit worldbaseballclassic.com.
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