Cubs reliever Rondon makes decision, says he’s ‘ready’ for WBC
MESA, Ariz. – Two spring appearances was all Cubs setup man Hector Rondon needed.
“Now I’m for sure. I feel really good and I’m ready,” said Rondon, who said Thursday he’ll formally accept Team Venezuela’s invitation and pitch in the World Baseball Classic.
Rondon, who would join the Venezuelans next week assuming they advance from first-round pool play this weekend, had held off making a decision until he determined how he felt during the first half of camp.
He said he’ll probably tell the Cubs staff next week.
Pitchers historically have proved the greater risk to big-league teams with players in the WBC, and Rondon is the only pitcher from the Cubs’ projected opening roster to participate.
Because Rondon spent time on the disabled list last year (triceps), the club has right under WBC/MLB rules to keep him out of the tournament. But he and the team agreed before camp opened that he could pitch after the first round.
“If he pitches the semifinals and finals, he has our blessing,” general manager Jed Hoyer said.
The former Cubs closer said he’s excited for his first WBC competition, during a year manager Omar Vizquel’s team has ramped up its roster and intent to win.
“Especially with the kind of players that we have right now,” Rondon said. “They have really good infielders and good hitters, too. Hopefully, they can score a lot of runs. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Venezuela, led by Miguel Cabrera, Felix Hernandex and Carlos Gonzalez, opens the first round Friday against Javy Baez’ Team Puerto Rico in Mexico. Italy and Mexico also are that pool.
The top two advance to the second round in San Diego, where Rondon plans to join them.
“Everybody’s taking it serious [this time],” Rondon said of a Venezuelan team that was bounced in the first round during the last WBC in 2013. “The last two times they went, they were playing around. Now they want to win. It’s going to be special.”
Thursday’s Cactus League lineup against Seattle (vs. LHP James Paxton):
LF Kyle Schwarber
3B Kris Bryant
1B Anthony Rizzo
2B Ben Zobrist
SS Addison Russell
RF Jason Heyward
C Willson Contreras
DH Taylor Davis
CF Jon Jay
(LHP Mike Montgomery)
The Cubs also have a “B” game vs. the Angels:
2B Tommy La Stella
SS Chesny Young
LF Ian Happ
C Victor Caratini
1B Alberto Mineo
3B Jason Vosler
CF Todd Glaesmann
RF Bijan Rademacher
(RHP Casey Kelly)