Rodney reportedly going to pitch in World Baseball Classic
Rays All-Star closer Fernando Rodney is planning to pitch for the Dominican Republic in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, according to a report in the Dominican newspaper El Caribe.
"I want to represent the country, it will be a pleasure to be there in the Dominican uniform," said Rodney, a 35-year-old Samana, D.R. native.
Rodney is coming off a spectacular first year with the Rays, setting the record for lowest ERA by a reliever (.60), with 48 saves in 50 chances. Tampa Bay picked up his $2.5 million option for 2013, when he's expected to be one of their most valuable relievers.
With the tournament starting in early March, the schedule would certainly interrupt Rodney's typical spring training schedule, accelerating the preparation and competitiveness. Teams have sometimes discouraged, or denied permission, for a players - pitchers especially - to participate in the tournament due concerns about health or workload. The Rays, for example, didn't want LHP Scott Kazmir to pitch in the WBC in 2009, and their petition was approved by a joint MLB-union panel. (Tampa Bay did allow LHP J.P. Howell and Evan Longoria to play, however.)
But when asked by El Caribe about gaining permission from the Rays, Rodney replied, “You don’t have to ask permission to represent your country.”
The Dominican Republic roster has yet to be officially announced. Their first game in the WBC is Mar. 7 in Puerto Rico, with the championship game Mar. 19 in San Francisco.
The Rays have yet to comment on Rodney potentially playing in the WBC. It's unclear how many Tampa Bay players will participate; Longoria has said he doesn't plan to play due to an offseason hamstring procedure.
-- JOE SMITH