Rowland-Smith won't pitch in Classic
Mariners left-hander decides it's best for him to stay in Spring Training
PEORIA, Ariz. -- When left-hander Ryan Rowland-Smith hit the sack on Saturday night, he already had decided to pass on the World Baseball Classic and stay with the Mariners so he could concentrate on landing a spot in the starting rotation.When he woke up on Sunday morning, nothing had changed, so he made it official.
"It was a tough decision, but my time would be better served to be here," he said. "I have worked hard all offseason to be in the rotation, and I don't want to miss any days [of Spring Training]."The 26-year-old from Down Under met with Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu on Saturday and said he had decided to stay in the Seattle camp, but it wasn't official. "He said he wanted to sleep on it," Wakamatsu said. The Mariners were prepared either way and would have supported whatever decision he made. But staying in Seattle's camp from start to finish should make it easier for Wakamatsu and pitching coach Rick Adair and bullpen coach John Wetteland to make a better evaluation of Rowland-Smith.
"I think being able to monitor his innings, we can keep a better handle on it," Wakamatsu said.The Australian team, which includes former Mariners outfielder Chris Snelling, currently is in Japan for some practice games and will return to Arizona for its pre-Classic workouts in Peoria. The Aussies will play the Mariners on March 4 at Peoria Stadium, and Rowland-Smith said he would like to pitch in that game. "That would be good," he said, smiling. "I know quite a few of the guys." Team Australia will open the Classic in Mexico City on March 8 against the host team in the Pool B bracket. Rowland-Smith originally thought he might be able work it out so he would miss only a few days of Spring Training if he played in the Classic. But if Australia advanced beyond the first round, he could be tied up for two or three weeks. He said Team Australia manager Jon Deeble "was disappointed, but he understands my decision," Rowland-Smith said, adding that he assured the skipper that he definitely would pitch for his country in the next Classic, four years from now. By then, he hopes to be fully entrenched as a member of the Seattle rotation.
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.