NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. - The Orioles apparently will lose their first pitcher to the World Baseball Classic.
Reliever Mychal Givens has committed to play for Team USA this spring, according to a tweet from ESPN’s Marly Rivera. He joins center fielder Adam Jones (USA), third baseman Manny Machado (Dominican Republic), second baseman Jonathan Schoop (Netherlands) and left fielder Hyun Soo Kim (Korea) in the WBC.
The Orioles haven’t confirmed Givens’ inclusion on the Team USA roster, which must be finalized in February.
Givens has emerged as one of the more important pieces in a bullpen that remains the Orioles’ primary strength. He appeared in 66 games this year as a rookie and registered a 3.13 ERA with 11.6 strikeouts per nine innings.
His role could increase if the Orioles decide to trade Brad Brach, who’s garnering serious interest from other teams at the Winter Meetings. The Orioles are continuing their search for a right fielder and are willing to subtract from their bullpen.
Givens, Machado and Kim are first-timers in the WBC. Schoop is rejoining Team Netherlands after homering twice and driving in six runs in 2013. Jones went 4-for-22 with four RBIs as Team USA failed to reach the semifinals.
Manager Buck Showalter will lose five players in spring training to the fourth installment of the international competition, which runs from March 9-22. Sixteen teams from five continents will be involved.
Showalter would prefer to have his entire team in camp to prepare for the upcoming season, but he won’t deny anyone the chance to play in the WBC. He’ll just keep his fingers crossed that no one gets hurt, especially a pitcher who may be placing more strain on his arm than usual for that period of the spring.
“People smarter than me think it’s great for the game to grow it globally, and if the players want to do it ...,” Showalter said in September.
“I’m a little biased. I’m always thinking about what best serves the Orioles and being in spring training on Feb. (13) and playing our first game on the 24th of February, I don’t know. How would you feel?
“It’s something that people think is important and I can see why, so we’ll cooperate as usual.”
Tokyo, Seoul, Miami, and Guadalajara will serve as first-round hosts. Tokyo and San Diego will be the second-round hosts, with the championship round played in Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Showalter is scheduled to meet with reporters today at 2:30 p.m., the annual Winter Meetings scrum in the media room. We’ll gather later inside executive vice president Dan Duquette’s suite for the latest updates in the club’s pursuit of a right fielder and veteran catcher.
Agent Scott Boras will hold court this afternoon, as he does every year. It’s quite a scene.
Boras will break out his binder and detail why Matt Wieters deserves a big multi-year deal. The research is always thorough and impressive.
Update: Showalter said no team can lose more than four players to the WBC. At least one Oriole won’t be participating.