WBC notebook: Sojo wrong about Mariners’ edict
TORONTO – More trouble for Venezuela, after manager Luis Sojo repeatedly told reporters that he was forced by the Seattle Mariners to burn two of his best starters, Carlos Silva and Felix Hernandez, in Saturday’s opening-round game against Italy.
That came as news to Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik, who wrote in an email Monday to Yahoo! Sports that the Mariners did not tell Venezuela the pitchers had to be used in that game.
“We have had no conversations with the Venezuela staff,” he wrote.
Confronted by angry members of the Venezuela media, who felt they’d been lied to, Sojo admitted through the team’s media representative Monday that the Mariners had not told them the pitchers had to be used in the first game.
“We were aware that Felix did not have any restrictions on how he should be used,” Sojo said, according to the Venezuelan spokesman. “The only thing we knew is that he had to throw that day because of his schedule in spring training.”
Hernandez had thrown a 50-pitch bullpen session last Monday, and Silva came into Saturday’s game not having thrown for nine days. Still, it would have made more sense for Venezuela to hold back Hernandez for Sunday’s game against Team USA, and saved Armando Galarraga for a must-win game Tuesday against the winner of Monday night’s game between Canada and Italy.
Or, at the very least, to have used Hernandez in relief of Galarraga rather than burning him against Italy with a victory virtually assured. The USA scored 13 runs against the Venezuelan bullpen, scoring at least one against each of six relievers.
If Italy wins tonight, Sojo said he will use right-hander Enrique Gonzalez on Tuesday. Gonzalez is with the Red Sox after being claimed on waivers from the San Diego Padres, for whom he appeared in four games last season. If Canada wins, Sojo said he will go with right-hander Ramon Ramirez, who made four starts for the Cincinnati Reds last season, saying Ramirez’s changeup should be effective against Canada’s left-handed hitters.
Jones expects to feel chipper
Chipper Jones will not play in Wednesday’s Team USA finale because of a strained oblique muscle, but expressed confidence that he’ll be back for the second round, which begins March 14 in Miami.
“Oblique strains are something that happens to switch-hitters quite frequently, and I’ve had this thing dozens of times,” he said. “I know the severity, and I know that this is probably something that will be knocked out in three or four days.”
The Braves’ third baseman, who said he felt a slight strain on the right side during a fifth-inning at-bat, said he wouldn’t think of missing the rest of the tournament.
“You couldn’t get me away from here with a crowbar,” he said. “I haven’t even contributed to this point, at least offensively.”
Gauging the locker room needling
Jones, on watching Dustin Pedroia of the Red Sox and Derek Jeter of the Yankees rib each other: “They go at it constantly, man. It’s fun watching the Yankees and Red Sox interact, because you know they’re going to hate each other in the morning.”
“I don’t think David will even engage in it,” Jones said. “David is real quiet and reserved, he’s not going to say much. Jete’s kind of the same way. You got Pedroia and Rollins instigating everything, it’s pretty funny.”
Guthrie and Lilly both to pitch
Nearly everyone on Team USA showed up for Monday’s optional workout. Manager Davey Johnson said he expects to use both of his remaining starting pitchers, Cubs left-hander Ted Lilly and Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie, in Wednesday’s finale.
Third base coach and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt, meanwhile, jumped into the cage to take a few hacks, much to the amusement of Team USA players.
Schmidt, who as never coached third base as a pro, had been worried about how he would fare. So far, no issues, although Mark DeRosa almost ran up Adam Dunn’s back while scoring on Chris Iannetta’s bases-clearing double in Sunday’s 15-6 win over Venezuela.
“I’m a little uneasy with it,” Schmidt said. “Last time I did this was when my son was in junior high.”