Rangers’ Holland eager for WBC opportunity

Derek Holland has had a little extra pep in his step the last couple of days.

That’s because the Texas left-hander found out he’d be part of Team USA’s squad for the World Baseball Classic in March.

Holland was one of four starting pitchers selected for the team’s provisional squad Thursday, joining Toronto’s R.A. Dickey, San Francisco’s Ryan Vogelsong and Atlanta’s Kris Medlen.

“It’s just a huge honor,” Holland said. “It’s an honor for me to be representing my country. It’s also an honor to be representing the Rangers.”

Holland found out about his inclusion earlier this week when he was talking about preparing for the upcoming season with Greg Maddux, who is a special assistant for the Rangers. He’s also a pitching coach for Team USA. One of his assistants is Mike Maddux, the Rangers’ pitching coach.

Holland is coming off an injury-plagued 2012 for the Rangers in which he went 12-7 with a 4.67 ERA. A stomach virus in June led to shoulder fatigue and it cost Holland more than a month to the disabled list.

Holland finished the season strong, going 5-0 over his last 10 starts. He said he’ll start throwing off a mound Friday or Saturday to be ready for the WBC. The team begins working out March 1 with its first game March 8.

Starting pitchers are limited to 65 pitches in the first round, 80 in the second round and 95 in the semifinals and finals.

The Rangers aren’t concerned about Holland being on the team. Having the Maddux brothers watching over him is one of the reasons.

“The pitching coach for Team USA (Greg Maddux) and the pitching coach for our club (Mike Maddux) have a good relationship,” Texas general manager Jon Daniels said. “I know before Derek was selected to the club, there was some dialogue. It’s understood that he’ll be able to stay on his same schedule, be basically on the same routine, the same amount of innings. It kind of lines up. I think it’s a great experience for him.”

Another Texas starter, Alexi Ogando, was on the provisional roster for the Dominican Republic. Daniels said he’s not sure if Ogando, who is making the transition from reliever to starter, will play in the WBC.

Texas starter Matt Harrison, who signed a five year, $55-million deal Thursday, said he had the option to pitch for the U.S. team but declined. Harrison said he wanted to make sure he was ready for the regular season after pitching a career high 213 1/3 innings in 2012. Harrison also was in the midst of contract talks when the offer was extended and he wanted to get that taken care of first.