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Pagan hopes WBC '17 sparks return to Majors

Free-agent outfielder goes 2-for-4 vs. former club in exhibition
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Angel Pagan said that the World Baseball Classic is about the country he represents, Puerto Rico, and not about himself.

However, should Pagan thrive in the international tournament that begins for his team on Friday (against Venezuela, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET/6 PT), he'll obviously improve his chances of latching onto a Major League ballclub -- which has yet to happen for the free-agent outfielder.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Angel Pagan said that the World Baseball Classic is about the country he represents, Puerto Rico, and not about himself.

However, should Pagan thrive in the international tournament that begins for his team on Friday (against Venezuela, live on MLB.TV and MLB Network at 9 p.m. ET/6 PT), he'll obviously improve his chances of latching onto a Major League ballclub -- which has yet to happen for the free-agent outfielder.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Citing the debt crisis that has gripped Puerto Rico, Pagan said Wednesday, "This tournament's important for my country. It's not important for me. ... Right now, my head is with Team Puerto Rico. My soul is with Team Puerto Rico."

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Pagan, who spent the previous five seasons with the Giants, started in left field and went 2-for-4 in the leadoff spot in Puerto Rico's 6-5 exhibition loss to San Francisco. He drew warm applause in each plate appearance, as the Scottsdale Stadium patrons acknowledged Pagan's role in helping San Francisco win the 2012 and '14 World Series.

"He looks good. He's healthy," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought he got some good swings off."

Pagan, 35, acknowledged receiving offers from multiple clubs. He has been linked to the Orioles, Nationals and Braves. But all Pagan reportedly could command from each club was a Minor League contract with an invitation to Major League camp. Pagan, who's coming off a four-year, $40 million deal with San Francisco, believes that he has outperformed such offers.

"I feel like I had a pretty good year," said Pagan, who recorded a .277/.331/.418 slash line in 2016 with 15 stolen bases and 12 home runs -- exceeding the number of round-trippers he hit from '13-15.

"I have a good resume as a player," Pagan said. "I think I can help a team. I just don't feel that I need to be fighting for a job. I'm in a position that if a team wants me to help a team win, they know I can help them win because I've been in that situation. I'm a winning player. I'm healthy. They'll see it in the [World] Baseball Classic. I just want to earn the respect that I deserve. That's all."

Tweet from @sfgiantsbeat: Bruce Bochy & ex-Giant Angel Pagan chat pic.twitter.com/nvKqXo5W15

As Pagan's former teammates took batting practice, he visited with or acknowledged several of them, including Bochy, third baseman Eduardo Nunez and first baseman Brandon Belt.

"Five beautiful years," said Pagan, who particularly excelled in 2012 (.288/.338/.440, 38 doubles, 29 stolen bases and 15 triples, a San Francisco-era franchise record).

Pagan's Giants tenure ended amid some confusion. Instead of being at AT&T Park for Game 4 of the National League Division Series against the Cubs, Pagan was at home under sedation due to receiving a shot for his formerly troublesome back.

Video: SF@CHC Gm1: Pagan bloops double past Zobrist in left

"My back never gave me any problems throughout the year, but I guess I was a little bit tired," Pagan said.

Pagan said that he was heading for the ballpark to join the team for its flight to Chicago for Game 5. Then the Cubs' four-run uprising in the ninth inning made that trip unnecessary. Meanwhile, some concern about Pagan's whereabouts were raised. Yet Bochy never questioned his resolve.

"He had some setbacks with injuries," Bochy said, "but it wasn't because of work ethic."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

Puerto Rico, San Francisco Giants, Angel Pagan