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Zobrist named to Team USA roster for WBC

Posted Jan 17, 2013 by Roger Mooney

Updated Jan 17, 2013 at 11:22 AM

By ROGER MOONEY
Ben Zobrist is the lone Tampa Bay Ray named to the Team USA roster for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

David Price, the 2012 American League Cy Young Award-winner, was not among the four starting pitchers selected. Though Team USA manager Joe Torre said he would add a fifth starter at some point once the tournament begins.

Closer Fernando Rodney is expected to pitch for the Dominican Republic.

“We’re supportive of guys who want to play for their country and go through the experience,” Rays executive vice president of baseball Andrew Friedman said earlier this week. “For pitchers it’s obviously less comfortable than it is for position players. But it’s one of those things that certainly helps advance the game. There are certain times when we have to think beyond the narrow scope of the Tampa Bay Rays.”

Friedman, who blocked Scott Kazmir for pitching in the 2009 WBC because of injury concerns, said he is not concerned about Rodney being able to get himself in shape for Opening Day.

“For guys who are going to throw seven or eight outings anyway, it’s easier,” Friedman said. “The only thing is they have to get ramped up quicker. The adrenaline of these games are different than spring training games, and so you have to get guys ready sooner. But with who Fernando is, the arm, the resiliency, all that stuff, there’s less concern about him than other guys.”

Friedman said there is a concern about starting pitchers and position players.

“For a reliever it’s obviously easier. Fernando would have probably seven to eight outings in spring training, anyway, and so it’s easier to get there,” Friedman said. “Where as with a starter, the way we methodically build someone up, it’s much more difficult. Not impossible, just more difficult. And with position players, there is some challenges there too of are they getting enough at-bats? For switch-hitters, are they getting enough at-bats from both sides? And all the things that go into what we do in a non-WBC year to get guys ready obviously still factor in for us and we try to do the best we can to make sure guys are ready.”

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