SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Team Mexico’s loss was Team USA’s gain, as Diamondbacks right-hander David Hernandez switched teams for the World Baseball Classic on Saturday in an eligibility snafu.
Originally scheduled to pitch for Mexico, Hernandez found out Friday that his family tree did not go back far enough for him to qualify. But when Cleveland reliever Chris Perez was a late scratch from the U.S. team, Hernandez gladly accepted the invitation to replace him. He will join D-backs players Heath Bell and Willie Bloomquist on Team USA.
Hernandez admitted to mixed emotions.
“It’s disappointing. I was really looking forward to pitching with Mexico, but it is definitely a great honor to pitch for the USA. It’s where I was born and raised. It was a great honor either way,” Hernandez said.
In order to be eligible to pitch for a country in the WBC, a player’s
parents or grandparents must have been born in that country. Hernandez’s
great-grandparents were born in Mexico before moving to the U.S.
“It’s kind of saddening. I was definitely looking forward to pitching against Team USA, because they have a talented roster. I’m just glad these guys are on my side now. Hopefully we can win it. That’s the ultimate goal.””
Team USA manager Joe Torre and pitching coach Greg Maddux met with Hernandez on Saturday morning. Pitching roles are undefined. Hernandez and Bell have pitched three times for the D-backs this spring and will throw a bullpen session Sunday before joining Team USA.
Early-season work can present a dilemma for pitchers, especially. It is difficult not to accept the ball when your country is calling, but overdoing it in spring can have season-long effects.
“I’ll be careful,” Hernandez said.
CORBIN THROWING STRIKES
Patrick Corbin has taken strides toward claiming the No. 5 spot in the starting rotation by showing good command of all his pitches in his two scoreless outings this spring. He has eight strikeouts in five innings, many on a slider/curveball breaking pitch that he can throw at two speeds.
“I feel like this year I am a little more consistent with it. I feel I can throw it any count,” Corbin said.
Part of it the transition for Corbin has been adjusting to the difference between minor league and major league baseballs. The seams are raised a little higher on minor league balls, making it easier to find a grip for a breaking ball. Corbin said there was an adjustment period in his first stay with the D-backs last year, although by the time he joined the rotation on Aug. 1, it was not an issue.
Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and Randall Delgado are the candidates for the final starting spot, with Josh Collmenter in the background as the expected long man out of the bullpen.
“I don’t really pay attention to that too much,” Corbin said. “I don’t know if that is my personality or anything. I just go out there and just play baseball and do what I am capable of doing and do what I have done to this point. I’m really not worked about what other people are doing. Just what I am doing and how we are doing as a team.”
With pitching coach Charles Nagy’s input late last season, Corbin said he worked more on coming over the top with the breaking pitch, making it more of a curve ball.
“That helped to be more consistent with it. Sometimes when I get to the side of it, it slips out and it is not as sharp,” Corbin said.
Delgado made his second appearance Saturday, giving up a run on three hits, a walk and a stolen base in two innings. He has given up five runs in two innings, and manager Kirk Gibson said location has been an issue.
The D-have all of the players on their 40-man roster under contract, the team announced Saturday. The D-backs renewed left-hander Wade Miley’s contract and agreed to terms with their other 20 players with less than three years of experience. The D-backs had targeted Paul Goldschmidt as a possible candidate for a contract extension, but he told the team in the offseason that he did not want to discuss a multi-year deal until after this season. … Aaron Hill (left quad) was scratched from the starting lineup as a precautionary measure. “It just tightened up a little bit. We are not going to fool around with it. We want to stay healthy at this point,” Gibson said. Outfielder Cody Ross (calf) was held out for the second day in a row, but Gibson said Ross is tentatively scheduled to play Sunday against San Francisco at Scottsdale Stadium.