TEMPE, ARIZ. — When the World Baseball Classic starts next week, Brian Fuentes won't be playing for Team USA. But, if the U.S. advances beyond the first round, the Angels' closer plans to join the team.
"I wanted to play," he said, "but the timing was bad."
Fuentes returned to his Merced home last week to deal with family matters. He declined to elaborate, but he said he decided to stay closer to home for now, at the Angels' training camp in Arizona.
The three-time All-Star said he would have withdrawn from the WBC entirely until Team USA officials told him they would leave a roster spot open for him. The U.S. team opens training camp today in Florida, with first-round games scheduled for Toronto from March 7 to 11 and second-round games scheduled for Miami from March 14 to 18, assuming the team advances.
"I'm looking forward to it," Fuentes said.
Shields for America
When reliever Scot Shields returned to the Angels' camp from the inaugural WBC three years ago, he marveled at the event and predicted players would flock to sign up for the next WBC.
Yet the U.S. could field an impressive team of players that have passed this time, either by choice or because of injury. How about a rotation of Tim Lincecum, Roy Halladay and CC Sabathia, with Joe Mauer catching, an infield of Mark Teixeira, Chase Utley, Stephen Drew and Evan Longoria and an outfield of Josh Hamilton, Grady Sizemore and Lance Berkman?
"The team we're putting out there is a little younger than last time," Shields said, "but we have some pretty exciting players.
"I got a firsthand look at Ryan Braun yesterday, and he almost took my head off."
Shields left the Angels on Sunday to join Team USA.
Kelvim Escobar said he felt fine after throwing his first bullpen session of the spring -- 25 pitches, all fastballs. Escobar is far ahead of schedule in his rehabilitation from shoulder surgery, originally expected to extend at least to the All-Star break.
"Is it going to be May 1 or May 15 or June 1? Who knows?" Manager Mike Scioscia said. "If he progresses with no setbacks, he'll be well ahead of the window he was given at surgery."
You go, No. 79
Eddie McKiernan, 19, a non-roster reliever, made his Cactus League debut Saturday. He faced one batter and retired him, then left as a group seated behind the Angels' dugout chanted his first name. McKiernan lives in Temple City, but he said the folks yelling "Ed-die! Ed-die!" were neither friends nor family members.
"I have no idea who they were," he said. "Maybe they were drunk."
Dustin Moseley, a candidate for the lone vacancy in the starting rotation, pitched two shutout innings and struck out three in the Angels' 6-4 victory over the Kansas City Royals. Moseley, who is out of options, is likely to make the team as a long reliever if he does not win a starting job. . . . Nick Adenhart, another fifth-starter candidate, followed Moseley and gave up one run in two innings. . . . Designated hitter Mike Napoli and infielder Freddy Sandoval drove in two runs apiece for the Angels. . . . The Angels signed infielders Erick Aybar and Brandon Wood, so every player in camp is signed and no player is subject to the team unilaterally renewing his contract. . . . Scioscia said Ervin Santana and Joe Saunders each would make his first spring start within the next week, with Jered Weaver expected to follow shortly thereafter. John Lackey is scheduled to make his spring debut today.
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World Baseball Classic Schedule
All times Pacific; all games on MLB.TV, ESPN Deportes
Tokyo Dome, Tokyo
China vs. Japan, 1:30 a.m., ESPN2
Chinese Taipei vs. Korea, 1:30 a.m., ESPN2
Game 2 Loser vs. Game 1 Loser, 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 2 a.m., ESPN2
Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 3:30 a.m., ESPN2
Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 2:30 a.m., ESPN2
Foro Sol Stadium, Mexico City
South Africa vs. Cuba, 11 a.m., MLBN
Australia vs. Mexico, 6 p.m., MLBN, ESPN
Game 2 Loser vs. Game 1 Loser, 7 p.m., MLBN
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 7 p.m., MLBN
Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 7 p.m., MLBN
Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 6 p.m., MLBN
Rogers Centre, Toronto
Canada vs. United States, 11 a.m., ESPN
Italy vs. Venezuela, 5 p.m., MLBN
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 5 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 Loser vs. Game 1 Loser, 3:30 p.m., MLBN
Game 4 Winner vs. Game 3 Loser, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Game 5 Winner vs. Game 3 Winner, 3:30 p.m., MLBN
Hiram Bithorn Stadium, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Netherlands vs. Dominican Republic, 8 a.m., ESPN2
Panama vs. Puerto Rico, 2 p.m., ESPN
Game 2 Loser vs. Game 1 Loser, 1:30 p.m., ESPN
Game 1 Winner vs. Game 2 Winner, 3:30 p.m., MLBN
Game 3 Winner vs. Game 4 Loser, 3:30 p.m., MLBN
Game 5 Winner vs. Game 4 Winner, 2 p.m., ESPN2
Petco Park, San Diego
Dolphin Stadium, Miami