PHOENIX — Kenley Jansen will get the opportunity to pitch at Dodger Stadium in 2017 before most of his teammates. The Dodgers closer said on Wednesday that he will join Netherlands in the championship round of the World Baseball Classic, which begins on Monday at Dodger Stadium.
Netherlands was the runner-up in Pool E in Tokyo, advancing with pool winner Japan to the championship round. Netherlands will play the Pool F winner on Monday night in Los Angeles, with the winner advancing to Wednesday night’s championship game.
"The guys that I grew up playing with, they're playing hard, man,” Jansen said. “Watching them, why not?”
Jansen was on the designated pitcher protocol list for Netherlands, such that they could call him up for future rounds if they advanced. The DPP was added this year as a way to make it easier for pitchers to commit to the WBC (or perhaps, their MLB teams to allow them) without having to participate in the entire tournament.
Jansen will probably leave Dodgers camp to join Netherlands on Sunday.
"I think it's great. It's something we talked about prior to the WBC if they happened to get to that point, that he would entertain joining their roster. It has come to that, and I know he's excited,” manager Dave Roberts said. “The most important thing is that he gets an opportunity to pitch for his country.”
The 2009 World Baseball Classic was the last such tournament Jansen played in, and he was a strong-armed catcher then, about a year and a half away from converting to pitcher.
Jansen said he was next scheduled to pitch on Monday anyway, so the timing was perfect. He could potentially pitch in two games at Dodger Stadium without throwing on back-to-back days, something usually reserved for the last week or so of camp.
Pitching in a meaningful game was also appealing to Jansen, who has allowed a run in all three spring games so far, allowing three runs on six hits in 2⅔ spring innings, with one walk and one strikeout.
"Spring training is a joke sometimes. The adrenaline is not there. You're pitching just to pitch sometimes. Once you get that adrenaline going, it definitely will help. Especially playing for your country, you're going to be amped up.”