Dodgers fans had ample reason to root for Team Mexico in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, but now have even more reason to do so. Relief pitcher Javy Guerra has joined Mexico as a late addition, as reported by Ken Gurnick of MLB.com.
A spot opened up for Guerra when Indians closer Chris Perez left Team USA with a shoulder injury. That spot was filled by Diamondbacks relief pitcher David Hernandez, who switched from Mexico to USA after he was ruled ineligible for Team Mexico.
Guerra is slated to pitch Sunday for the Dodgers against the Indians, a game that is expected to also be played by Gonzalez and Cruz, before all three report to Team Mexico on Monday. They won't have to go far though since Mexico trains at Camelback Ranch and will play their games in Pool D in Arizona, at Chase Field in Phoenix and Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale.
"If you ask every manager and general manager if they would rather have their players in camp, yes we'd rather have them here with us," manager Don Mattingly said earlier Saturday. "But in the big picture of things, you don't want to stand in the way of the growth of the game internationally, and that's what the WBC represents."
The timing is somewhat odd for Guerra, who was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque in August and is among several pitchers fighting for essentially two spots in the Dodgers bullpen. Facing similar choices, Paco Rodriguez (Spain), Alfredo Amezaga (Mexico) and Peter Moylan (Australia) have all pulled out of the 2013 WBC to focus on winning spots on the Dodgers roster in spring training.
"Ned (Colletti, general manager) said it was my personal choice," Guerra told Gurnick. "I'll be facing the world's elite. When I come back, at that point I'll compete for a job and go out and prove I can pitch."
Mexico plays the Dodgers in an exhibition game on Saturday at Camelback Ranch. Mexico opens its WBC play on Thursday in Pool D against Italy, featuring Nick Punto, at noon at Salt River Fields.