National pride: Guthrie to pitch for U.S. in WBC

The Baltimore Sun

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -Jeremy Guthrie was perfectly fine with remaining in Orioles camp and continuing to mentor the organization's young pitchers. However, the opportunity to represent his country was too great to pass up.

Guthrie, the 29-year-old right-hander whom the Orioles picked up off waivers two years ago, was selected for the final roster of Team USA for next month's World Baseball Classic. The lone holdover from last year's Orioles rotation, Guthrie was informed of the decision Friday in a phone call from USA Baseball director/CEO Paul Seiler.

He'll leave the Orioles on March 1 to report to Clearwater, Fla., with the rest of the American team. He's tentatively scheduled to pitch March 5 in an exhibition game against the Philadelphia Phillies. The USA team, which is guided by former Orioles manager Davey Johnson, will open the tournament two days later against Team Canada in Toronto.

"It's neat to have the opportunity," said Guthrie, who went 10-12 with a 3.63 ERA last year. "I've never put a jersey on that says 'USA.' That's a great honor, and to be surrounded by the type of players that will be on that team is going to be a good learning experience. It's fun. It's obviously humbling."

Guthrie and Orioles pitching coach Rick Kranitz have already talked to Marcel Lachemann, the pitching coach for Team USA, and gone over Guthrie's schedule. Guthrie and the Orioles said they aren't concerned that it will prevent the right-hander from getting ready for his expected Opening Day start against the New York Yankees.

"I'll get two games in with the Orioles and make a scheduled start right on time with Team USA," Guthrie said. "Then the first round will be kind of up in the air. They'll probably start with [Jake] Peavy and [Roy] Oswalt, and depending if we win both of those or not, I'll get some work in Toronto one way or another. Then we come down here, and we'll have to be a little more flexible.

"It's a no-brainer [decision], but you still have to have considerations for everything else, both being prepared to start the season with the Orioles and being here with a bunch of new pitchers. But I think a significant time will be spent here to open camp, as well as a minimum of 10 days at the end of camp. I know the majority of the people, and I think the few that I don't know will be well received by the rest of the team."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley said he encouraged Guthrie to participate, even though it means his staff ace will be away from the team for what could be most of the spring. His absence will allow the Orioles to get a longer look at other potential members of the rotation. There are 37 pitchers in camp, and Trembley and Kranitz have acknowledged that it will be a challenge to get all of them enough innings.

"It gives somebody else an opportunity to get those innings," Trembley said. "On the other hand, you always want your team together, but in the case of Guthrie, I don't worry about him. We know who he is. ... There's a very deserving young man. If someone is going to represent our team and our city, I couldn't think of anybody better to do that."

The final USA roster, which is expected to include 26 players, will be announced Tuesday. Second baseman Brian Roberts and reliever George Sherrill were named to the provisional roster, though neither has been told he has made the final roster.

Melvin Mora and Cesar Izturis, the left side of the Orioles' infield, are slated to play for Venezuela. Oscar Salazar and Lou Montanez, who will be competing this spring for bench spots on the Opening Day roster, could play for Venezuela and Puerto Rico, respectively.

"They should go and represent their country," Trembley said. "It's a great opportunity. It's great for the game of baseball."

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