ST. PETERSBURG - SEPTEMBER 07: Pitcher Derek Holland #45 of the Texas Rangers pitches against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 7, 2012 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)
For the past week or so we've been discussing the merits of pitchers declining invitations to pitch in the World Baseball Classic, the world baseball tournament, which uses MLB players, that happens every three years and forces players to miss part of spring training.
Now, Texas Rangers pitcher Derek Holland is bucking that trend as he has accepted a bid to pitch for Team USA in the tournament that begins on March 8, with practices starting on March 1. The championship game, should the USA make it, will be played on March 19 in San Francisco's AT&T Park.
"I'm just excited to get the opportunity to play and represent [the] USA, but also Texas," Holland told ESPN Dallas via text. "It's a huge honor."
Holland is coming off a very lukewarm season in which he put up a 4.67 ERA in 27 starts and posted a 12-7 record. One camp could say that this will give Holland extra game experience to get into a groove before the Rangers open their season on March 31 in Houston.
The other camp, which includes myself, says someone like Holland should probably take full advantage of spring training to try to get back to his second-half-of-2011 self, when he was arguably one of the top pitchers in baseball.
Rangers pitchers Yu Darvish and Joe Nathan have both declined invitations to pitch in the tournament for Japan and the USA, respectively.
Holland will join reigning NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, Kris Medlin and Ryan Vogelsong on the Team USA starting staff, which will be coached by co-pitching coach Greg Maddux, the Rangers' special assistant to the GM and brother of Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux. So maybe it's not all a bad thing.