Chacin to pitch for Venezuela in Classic
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-handed pitcher Jhoulys Chacin announced Wednesday via Twitter that he will represent Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic. Earlier in the day, he said he was awaiting the results of a physical that he had taken for Classic officials.
This will mean time away from Rockies camp, but the tournament keeps pitchers on their schedule so the event doesn't disrupt teams' regular-season plans.
Chacin, who was scheduled to make an official announcement during a conference call with Venezuelan media Wednesday afternoon, was out for much of last season with a strained nerve in the right side of his chest. But he finished the season healthy and pitched winter ball. When the Mariners' Felix Hernandez bowed out of the tournament to protect himself after signing a six-year, $175 million contract, Chacin -- who had expressed interest in participating during the winter -- actively sought a roster spot.
Rockies manager Walt Weiss said the intensity of the event, at a time when most players are merely tuning up for the season, could help Chacin.
"You can look at it any way you want to," Weiss said. "You like to have your guys around in Spring Training so you've got them in front of you. But the guys who are in the WBC are going to be in some high-pressure situation, having to win games. They're going to get a lot out of that. It's a great honor for these guys to be selected for that."
This year's Classic also will give Chacin more time with Venezuela pitching coach Wilton Lopez. In January, Chacin visited Lopez in Sarasota, Fla., to adjust his conditioning and correct a mechanical flaw that could help his fastball. Chacin has consistently kept his fingers on top of the ball while throwing his changeup and slider, which are considered his best pitches, but had fallen into a habit of letting the fingers slip beneath the ball on the fastball. Lopez spotted the habit on video and addressed it with Chacin.
Left fielder Carlos Gonzalez and catcher Ramon Hernandez also will represent Venezuela.