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Shark, Melancon may be alternates for USA

Special to MLB.com

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants already are without two of the cogs in their lineup and could be without a few pitchers as well here shortly.

Starter Jeff Samardzija and closer Mark Melancon recently received invites to join Team USA as alternates for the World Baseball Classic, in which Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford already helped the American team to a thrilling win in its opener on Friday night.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants already are without two of the cogs in their lineup and could be without a few pitchers as well here shortly.

Starter Jeff Samardzija and closer Mark Melancon recently received invites to join Team USA as alternates for the World Baseball Classic, in which Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford already helped the American team to a thrilling win in its opener on Friday night.

Melancon, who signed a four-year, $62 million free-agent contract in the offseason, could join Team USA as early as the second round, which would be March 14 or 15 in San Diego, if the team advances. Samardzija likely wouldn't be needed until the semifinals on March 20 in Los Angeles.

As alternates, Samardzija and Melancon, who received the invites on Thursday, will wait to see if Team USA activates them and then if the Giants grant permission.

"We'll see," Samardzija said on Saturday morning, not long after highlights of Team USA's 10-inning win over Colombia aired on the clubhouse TVs. "It would be cool.

"There are other powers at play here. When you play for another team and you're committed to them for a long-term stretch it's a little out of your hands. I think the best thing you can do is voice that you would enjoy to do it and if it happens to work out, that's gravy. If not, then that's OK and maybe you get another chance down the road."

Video: PUR@SF: Melancon strikes out three in the 6th inning

Melancon originally was invited to be part of Team USA's roster, but he declined during the winter, not knowing with which Major League team he was going to sign. Melancon had allowed no runs, three hits and struck out six in six Cactus League innings through Friday.

"I wanted to do it from the get-go, but coming to a new team, I didn't want to jeopardize this," Melancon said. "I've been with these guys for a while now and have [six] innings under my belt. I felt like it's a good segue into the season."

Despite the injury risk, both Samardzija and Melancon see a baseball benefit to WBC participation.

"Anytime you get to play any sport in high-level competition, especially to represent your country, it's a pretty cool thing," Samardzija said. "Especially for baseball because it's not offered at any other time; it's not in the Olympics. This is kind of the World Cup-type thing that's going on and it's pretty new."

Giants right-hander Johnny Cueto, who made his spring debut on Saturday, in the coming days also could decide to join Team Dominican Republic in the second round. The U.S. and Dominican Republic face off in Pool C play at 6:30 p.m. ET on Saturday in Miami.

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.

Chris Gabel is a contributor to MLB.com.

United States, San Francisco Giants, Mark Melancon, Jeff Samardzija