Not so fast.....
- By KEN DAVIDOFF
- Last Updated: 4:38 AM, January 18, 2013
Andy Pettitte, no stranger to indecision, has not committed to pitching for Team USA in this year’s World Baseball Classic.
But he hasn’t withdrawn from consideration, either.
The 16 WBC competitors released their provisional rosters Thursday, and Team USA didn’t include Pettitte’s name on its list of 27 players. Tellingly, the final rosters — due Feb. 20 — allow for 28 players. Team USA, like many of the countries, gave itself some wiggle room.
According to two industry sources, Pettitte — who has contemplated retirement annually since 2006, and who actually retired in 2011 only to return last season — has told Team USA manager Joe Torre he wants to take more time to decide. The Feb. 20 deadline means Pettitte will have about a week to work out in Yankees camp and assess his physical readiness for the tournament before resolving his situation.
The 40-year-old is not the only high-profile pitcher on Team USA’s radar, however. Detroit ace Justin Verlander also has been in touch with Torre about joining the team, and though Torre and Pettitte have a strong relationship from their days together with the Yankees, Verlander would get first dibs on that spot. Like Pettitte, Verlander is interested yet wasn’t comfortable giving a definite yes this early in the process.
The other Yankees participating in the WBC are second baseman Robinson Cano (Dominican Republic), catcher Francisco Cervelli (Italy) and first baseman Mark Teixeira (USA). The only Met competing in the tournament will be third baseman David Wright (USA), though former Met and reigning National League Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey will be Wright’s teammate once more with Team USA.
Teams continue to have a conflicted relationship with the WBC. They’re in favor of the brand expansion; they just don’t like players, particularly pitchers, leaving their domain to perform somewhere else. Nevertheless, unless a player is coming off a season-ending injury — as is the case with Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter, for instance — teams can’t prevent their players from taking part in the event.
Dickey’s fellow Team USA starting pitchers, for now, are Texas’ Derek Holland and San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong. Teixeira and Wright will flank Cincinnati second baseman Brandon Phillips and Philadelphia’s Jimmy Rollins in the infield. The outfield will feature Milwaukee’s Ryan Braun, Baltimore’s Adam Jones, Boston’s Shane Victorino and Miami’s Giancarlo Stanton, with Tampa Bay super utility player Ben Zobrist helping all around. Toronto’s J.P. Arencibia and Minnesota’s Joe Mauer will handle the catching duties.
Team Japan, which has won both of the prior WBCs, is notably bereft of star power this time, with not a single current major-league player involved. Japan’s one familiar name is former Mets bust Kazuo Matsuiwho has spent the last two seasons with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Other big names committed to the tournament are former Met and current Cardinal Carlos Beltran (Puerto Rico), reigning AL MVP Miguel Cabrera of Detroit (Venezuela), Seattle ace Felix Hernandez (Venezuela), former Met and current Blue Jay Jose Reyes (Dominican Republic) and former Met and current free agent Francisco Rodriguez (Venezuela).
* As expected, the Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez was discharged Thursday from the Hospital for Special Surgery in Manhattan after undergoing left hip surgery on Wednesday. Rodriguez immediately will begin a rehabilitation program with Dr. Bryan Kelly, who performed the procedure.
* The Yankees are hopeful the third baseman-designated hitter will be able to return to action sometime around the All-Star break.
* The Yankees and reliever Joba Chamberlain agreed on a one-year, $1.875-million contract for 2013, avoiding arbitration. The deal also includes $275,000 in incentives for games finished. Chamberlain, who will be eligible for free agency next winter, gets a $200,000 raise, though the contract is non-guaranteed. The 27-year-old missed most of the 2012 season rehabilitating from Tommy John surgery and returned to post a 4.35 ERA in 22 appearances, striking out 22 and walking six in 20 2/3 innings.