Wary of arm, Smoltz bows out of Baseball Classic
ATLANTA -- While Major League Baseball awaits word whether Cuba will be allowed to play in the World Baseball Classic, Atlanta pitcher John Smoltz says he probably won't be pitching for the United States in the tournament.
Smoltz was quoted as saying in Tuesday's editions of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that he's not likely to play.
"We all have concerns; everybody does," Braves general manager John Schuerholz said Tuesday. "We're going to do all that we can to be as smart as we can to get our guys in the best possible condition, principally pitchers, so they're less likely to have an injury problem that would set them back and set us back."
Baseball spokesman Rich Levin said Tuesday that the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control still hasn't ruled on the revised application for a permit to allow Cuba to participate.
Aldo Notari, the president of the sport's world governing body, the International Baseball Federation, last week sent the commissioner's office and the players' association a letter saying the IBAF won't sanction the event if Cuba is excluded.
Coming off a foot injury which shortened his 2005 season, third baseman Chipper Jones has committed to represent the United States. Outfielder Andruw Jones, runner-up in the 2005 MVP voting, plans to play for the Netherlands.
The 38-year-old Smoltz, who has had four operations, on his right elbow, pitched through right shoulder pain in the Braves' first-round playoff loss to Houston. He says he has no pain now but doesn't want to rush his preparation in the spring.
"I'm pretty confident, about 100 percent, that I'm not going to be playing in the World Classic," Smoltz was quoted as saying by the Journal-Constitution.
Smoltz could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
"It's really tough for him," said Andruw Jones, who has been working out with Smoltz three times a week. "You're going to try to do a lot and you might injure yourself. It's more tough on pitchers than it is on position players. I know Major League Baseball is having a difficult time with all these superstar pitchers we have in the United States, finding some who want to play."
Schuerholz said he has not tried to discourage players from participating.
"We committed to baseball as an organization that we will support this," Schuerholz said. "No team has any different right than another team. If our players are asked to perform, we're going to support them. ...
"Obviously players have to be the ultimate judge as to their well-being and physical capability. Ultimately, they're going to be the ones that have to make the decision about what's right for them and their careers."
After four successful seasons as Atlanta's closer, Smoltz returned to the rotation last year and was 14-7 with a 3.06 ERA.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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World Baseball Classic
WHAT: A 16-team international tournament divided into four pools of four teams each
WHEN: March 3-20, 2006
WHERE: U.S., Puerto Rico, Japan
World Baseball Classic at a glance
|Dominican Republic||South Africa|
• Jan. 23: Bonds says he won't play
• Jan. 20: Cuba allowed in
• Jan. 18: Provisional rosters are announced
• Jan. 17: A-Rod plans to play for U.S.
• Jan. 16: U.S. names provisional roster
• Jan. 14: Canada names 23 to roster
• Jan. 14: Nomar to play for Mexico
• Jan. 11: Lasorda expects Cuba to play
• Jan. 10: Marlins' Cabrera to play for Venezuela
• Jan. 10: Smoltz not likely to pitch for U.S.
• Jan. 9: Italian team to train with Tigers
• Jan. 6: Report: Iguchi, Buehrle to skip WBC
• Jan. 6: IBAF threat: No Cuba, no Classic
• Jan. 4: Report: A-Rod to play for U.S.
• Dec. 28: Venezuela wants Cuba in Classic
• Dec. 27: Matsui won't play for Japan in March
• Dec. 23: Cuba offers to donate Classic money
• Dec. 22: MLB denies Cuban exiles
• Dec. 22: Astros assistant to manage Italy
• Dec. 15: A-Rod will sit out Classic
• Dec. 14: Treasury: Cuba can't send players
• Dec. 14: Matsui promises to decide soon
• Dec. 13: A-Rod leaning toward Dominican team
• Dec. 13: Griffey ready to play
• Dec. 11: Yankees deny Posada
• Dec. 3: Pedro, Tejada hope to play
• Dec. 3: Garcia pitching for Venezuela
• Dec. 2: Report: Castro says Cuba will play
• Nov. 30: Bonds to play for U.S.
• Nov. 28: Whitt to manage Canada
• Nov. 22: U.S., Canada to play exhibitions
• Nov. 14: Arizona to host WBC games
• Nov. 14: Livan Hernandez can play for PR
• Nov. 12: Dontrelle to hurl for U.S.
• Nov. 10: Delgado suiting up for PR
• Sept. 28: San Diego hosting WBC
• Sept. 16: Japan agrees to participate
• July 14: A-Rod to play for DR
• July 13: No WBC for Sheffield
• July 11: WBC groups unveiled
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