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Orioles Gonzalez Invited to Pitch for Mexico in WBC

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January 16, 2013

Baltimore Orioles' pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has been invited to pitch for Mexico in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. Born right here in Jalisco, the right-hander expressed his excitement for the opportunity.

Baltimore Orioles' right hand pitcher Miguel Gonzalez has been invited to pitch for Mexico in the 2013 spring World Baseball Classic.

Gonzalez, who was born in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico, but spent most of his childhood in Southern California, said he is waiting for the Oriolesí approval to play. "I would love to represent Mexico, of course,Ē Gonzalez said. "It all depends on what the Orioles tell me, if itís OK to go or not...They called me from the front office and they asked me if Iíd be willing to play for Mexico, and I told them I would, but it all depends on whatever the organization tells me. Iím just waiting on that."

The Orioles signed the 28-year-old last March as a minor league free agent after watching him pitch for Mazatlan of the Mexican League. He dominated hitters at Triple-A Norfolk, the minor league affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, and by the end of the 2012 season was one of their major league team's most dependable starters, going 9-4 with a 3.25 ERA in 18 big-league games - with 15 starts.

This time last year, Gonzalez had been released by the Red Sox and was looking for another opportunity to break into the big leagues. Now, he could be pitching for Mexico on a world stage. "I donít think anybody was interested in me last year," Gonzalez said with a laugh. "Iím happy with what happened in 2012. I was happy with everything and Iím excited for the opportunity."

Orioles center fielder Adam Jones said last week that he has accepted an invitation to play for the United States in the WBC. Closer Jim Johnson also received an invitation to play for the United States, but he declined because heís coming off a spring in which he battled back issues.

Gonzalez is coming off a year in which he pitched a total of 220 innings between the Mexican League, the minors, and the majors, the highest total of his pro career. Toward the end of last season, the Orioles made a concerted effort to give Gonzalez extra off days down the stretch.

So, to pitch in the WBC, Gonzalez would have to be in game form by the second week of March. Mexico shares a pool with the United States, Canada, and Italy.

About the World Baseball Classic

For the third time, baseball will crown a world champion as 16 nations compete in a pool-play tournament held from March 2nd through the 19th. Japan won the first two WBCs, held in 2006 and 2009. Hereís a look at this yearís field:

ē Pool A - games played in Fukuoka, Japan - Brazil, China, Cuba, Japan

ē Pool B - games played in Taichung, Taiwan - Australia, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Netherlands

ē Pool C - games played in San Juan, Puerto Rico - Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Spain, Venezuela

ē Pool D - Phoenix, Arizona - Canada, Italy, Mexico, United States

The top two teams in Pool A and the top two teams in Pool B will play a double-elimination second round in Tokyo with the top two teams advancing. The top two teams in Pool C and the top two teams in Pool D play a double-elimination second round in Miami with two teams advancing. The semifinals and finals will be held in San Francisco, California.

For more on the 2013 World Baseball Classic visit worldbaseballclassic.com.