The World Baseball Classic coming in March will pit some major league teammates against each other in the 16-nation tournament and that could happen for Orioles teammates Adam Jones and Pedro Strop. The 27-year-old right-hander will pitch for the Dominican Republic and he could wind up facing Jones at some point instead of watching him play center field behind him.
"Something like that would be fun," Strop said today when asked about the possibility of facing Jones in the tournament. "You are always in the clubhouse playing around with your teammates. Now he could be an enemy (he said laughing). But we all play to win."
Strop is excited and honored to get the chance to pitch for his home country.
"I feel proud to play for my country. It is always good to represent your country, so I'm proud to be on the team. You see some of these guys on different teams during the major league season and now some of them will be my teammates," Strop said.
"Right after the season was over (last year) I set my mind for that. Something I always wanted to do was play for my country. It was always in my plans. But I'm ready. I've been throwing off a mound."
Strop is aware that some feel playing in the WBC could hinder his preparation for the big league season, but he doesn't think that will be an issue.
"You just have to be aware that you have to be physically ready to play in the WBC," he said. "If you don't prepare your body, you can get hurt. But I've been working out since late December and I pitched in the Dominican in winter ball. I'm getting my body ready to play in that."
Strop went 5-2 with a 2.44 ERA for the 2012 Orioles. Over 66 1/3 innings, he walked 37 and fanned 58. He had an ERA of 1.67 in the first half and 3.45 after the All-Star break. He knows the fans' last memories of him were not as good as he pitched to an ERA of 8.38 in his last 15 games starting Aug. 27.
But he said those late-season struggles are well behind him now.
"Yes. I know there was a bump in the road, but I'm totally confident that I'll come here and work hard and do my best," he said. "Whatever I need to do to help my team, I will do. Whatever struggles there were in the last month, I am not even thinking about that now. Like I said, it was just a bump in the road."
Strop said he didn't think fatigue was a problem for him late last season and that his struggles then were more mechanics related.
The Dominican team was eliminated in round one of the 2009 WBC after finishing fourth in 2006.