Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez said he decided he won't pitch for Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
"It was a tough decision because obviously I wanted to represent Mexico, but you always have to think about what's going to happen in the long run," Gonzalez told reporters on Thursday during the Orioles' minicamp. "I think it's more important for me to be with the team."
Gonzalez, 28, rose from being a minor league free agent to becoming one of the Orioles' most dependable starters late in the season. He pitched 220 innings last year -- including winter ball in Mexico and the minors and majors -- and the team made every effort to give Gonzalez extra rest down the stretch.
Gonzalez, who was 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 games (15 starts) with the Orioles, wanted to represent his country -- he was born in Guadalajara, Mexico but moved to Southern California as a child -- but he said it was important to not miss any time of his first big league spring training. Having to get game-ready early for the WBC also presented a risk of being shut down later in the season.
"Obviously this is more important than going down there," he said.
Gonzalez said the decision was entirely his. He and his wife are also expecting their first child this summer, which he said was also a factor.
Gonzalez did not pitch winter ball this offseason, instead choosing to train with Orioles special assistant Brady Anderson in California.