Bleier declined the original invitation because he wanted to make the most of his opportunity to compete for a place on a major league roster out of spring training. He was a Yankee at the time, but was acquired by the Orioles and now is vying for a left-handed bullpen role.
“I played in 2013 and they reached out to me to see if I wanted to play this year,” he said. “At the time, career-wise, I’m trying to make an impression and — having a legitimate chance to compete for a place on the team —I thought it would be better to be here than to go. But it seems like they’re having a good time out there.”
He still is eligible to join the pitching staff if Israel continues a surprising run that already includes upset victories over South Korea and Chinese Taipei, but he sounds like he’s leaning against it.
Bleier is a 29-year-old prospect, but he pitched well for the Yankees in his first stint in the majors last year. He appeared in 23 games and posted a 1.96 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP. He walked just four batters in 23 innings.
“It’s going pretty well,” he said. “It’s a great group of guys. Obviously, the talent and quality of baseball is there. I’m glad I don’t have to pitch against these guys anymore.”