TAMPA, Fla. -- Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli is passing on a chance to play in the World Baseball Classic so he can stay in camp to compete for a starting job.
Cervelli was listed on the provisional roster for Italy's Classic squad, but said that he recently told Italy manager Marco Mazzieri that he would have to decline the invitation.
"I talked to the manager two days ago, and he understood everything," Cervelli said. "I think I'm going to have more [chances] in the future."
Cervelli, who is of both Italian and Venezuelan descent, previously played for Italy in the 2009 Classic.
The 26-year-old is viewed as an early frontrunner to serve as the Yankees' Opening Day catcher this season, with Chris Stewart and Austin Romine also in competition for the job.
"This is what I've been looking for," Cervelli said. "I think it's a smart thing to stay here [in camp]."
Cervelli said that the Yankees did not discourage him from playing in the Classic. New York projects to have two participants, with first baseman Mark Teixeira playing for Team USA and second baseman Robinson Cano suiting up for the Dominican Republic.
"They told me I [could] do it, but it's my own decision," Cervelli said. "I just wanted to work out and come here and concentrate on my things."
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.