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Pitching for Team USA in WBC intrigues Sale

MLB.com @scottmerkin

CLEVELAND -- White Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana could pitch against either during Spring Training, and that scenario might take place without the team rebuilding and trading away one of their top two starters.

Quintana already has expressed an interest in being part of the 2017 World Baseball Classic with his native Colombia, a country which qualified for the first time for the competition. And while Sale isn't sure, the proposition of pitching for Team USA certainly interests the perennial Cy Young candidate.

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CLEVELAND -- White Sox pitchers Chris Sale and Jose Quintana could pitch against either during Spring Training, and that scenario might take place without the team rebuilding and trading away one of their top two starters.

Quintana already has expressed an interest in being part of the 2017 World Baseball Classic with his native Colombia, a country which qualified for the first time for the competition. And while Sale isn't sure, the proposition of pitching for Team USA certainly interests the perennial Cy Young candidate.

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"It seems like a fun experience," Sale told MLB.com. "I've always heard really good things about it. I would definitely have to put some thought into that before I jumped to one side or the other, before I say yes or no 100 percent either way.

"But I'm very intrigued by it. I definitely don't want to rule it out but I definitely don't want to put my hand out there right now."

The Dominican Republic and Canada join the United States and Colombia as part of The Classic's Pool C, with competition taking place from March 9-12 at Marlins Park in Miami. Colombia advanced from the Panama City Qualifier, and while Quintana wasn't part of that particular team, he's ready to go as one of Colombia's top Major League players.

"I'm really excited to represent my country," a smiling and proud Quintana said. "It's a good experience because it's the first time we qualified in the World Baseball Classic. Everybody is excited in my country.

"It's an honor for any player to be there for his country. I'll prepare a little early for this year, but I want to go. I need to talk first with my team, but I want to be there if they want me to go for the country. I'm available."

Both players have to be chosen to play, although it seems plausible two of the game's top starting pitchers would be on their respective countries' short lists. Both Sale and Quintana realize Spring Training becomes a little different when games matter in mid-March, as opposed to simply getting in work and gradually raising pitch counts during Cactus League contests.

Sale is coming off of a career high in innings this season, while Quintana was working Saturday night toward his fourth straight season of throwing at least 200 innings with at least 30 starts. Nonetheless, pitching in this world-wide competition makes the offseason and Spring Training adjustments worthwhile.

"Yeah, no doubt. That's probably one of the main reasons why it's really intriguing to me," Sale said. "I've heard it's an honor to wear that uniform. To be able to represent your country, it's something that I'd like to do.

"At this time, like I said, I just definitely want to put more thought into it then just right here. I've never heard anything but good things about it. I'll definitely talk to everybody involved that has a say so in it and see where we go from there."

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for MLB.com since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Chicago White Sox, Chris Sale