A pair of Indian bullpen arms will trade in their Spring Training uniforms for Team USA gear this March. Closer Chris Perez and set-up man Vinnie Pestano will both participate in the World Baseball Classic. The complete roster for the Joe Torre-led Americans was released Thursday morning. The two pitchers are part of the six total members of the club participating in the WBC.
Perez and Pestano have grown into one of the top back-ends out of any bullpen in baseball. Perez has saved 75 games in the past two seasons while Pestano recorded 59 holds in the same time frame. The leading two members of the self-proclaimed “Bullpen Mafia” struck out a combined 135 hitters last season.
Both players received personal phone calls from team manager Joe Torre before the announcement of the final roster was made. News broke late last week that Perez and Pestano had committed to the team for the tournament in the spring.
Team USA is looking for a big performance at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. The team has never finished better than fourth in the two previous events. In fact, the Americans are just 7-7 all-time at the World Baseball Classic.
Perez is a native of Miami, Florida while Pestano resided in Newport Beach, California in his youth. Team USA’s roster features 13 pitchers. The team’s first round games will be played at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks. This location is beneficial for Perez and Pestano as the Indians’ minor league facility is in close-by Goodyear, Arizona.
Indians general manager Chris Antonetti commented on the Tribe duo participating in the WBC saying, “Selfishly, from a team perspective, for all our players, we’d prefer that they remain in camp and continue their work with our coaches preparing for the season. At the same time, it’s a great opportunity for these guys to go out and represent their countries and play against some great competition.”
Team USA opens their World Baseball Classic slate on Friday, March 9th against Team Mexico.