Major blow for Team Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic. Starting pitcher Jair Jurrjens of the Atlanta Braves decided to opt out of the WBC on Sunday. The right-hander wants to concentrate on Spring Training in preparation for the new season.
Jurrjens never seemed fully committed to pitch in the Classic, and his decision was made when the Braves told him that they would want him to return to Spring Training after making his first-round start for The Netherlands in Puerto Rico.
“I don’t want to just go there for one game and come back,” said Jurrjens, who completed a professional career-high 188 innings last year. “If I go, I want to go and spend the time there. The Classic is going to come back anyway. I’ve got to think about my future before fun.”
Jurrjens probably would have started game one against the Dominican Republic, but also could have gotten an opportunity to pitch against Puerto Rico’s Javier Vazquez, his new teammate in Atlanta. The 23-year-old hurler completed his first full year in the big leagues in 2008, going 13-10 with an ERA of 3.68 and 139 strikeouts in 188 1/3 innings, while walking 70.
Netherlands manager Rod Delmonico still has a few options to fill the rotation, for example Shairon Martis, Sidney Ponson, Rick Van Den Hurk, Juan Carlos Sulbaran, Rob Cordemans or Leon Boyd. But Jurrjens for sure would have helped against the strong offense of the Dominican team filled with Major League All-Stars.
Update: The pitching coach of the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, Bert Blyleven, is going to talk to Jurrjens, if he would re-think his decision. Braves manager Bobby Cox would allow a participation.