02/14/2013 3:50 PM ET
Ayala trying to decide if he'll pitch in Classic
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
SARASOTA, Fla. -- Orioles reliever Luis Ayala will decide by Thursday whether to accept an invitation to pitch for Team Mexico in the World Baseball Classic.
"They've said it's my decision," Ayala said of Baltimore's opinion on the matter. "They haven't said [anything]. I'm looking [out] for my future. I talked to the guy from the Mexican team yesterday. I [will] make the decision tonight."
Ayala has not thrown a bullpen session during the first two days of Spring Training, but he's coming off a winter-ball season and is already in game shape.
"My last game was four days ago," Ayala said. "I'm ready. [The Orioles] know me and when they say, 'Yeah, we're going to give you more time.' ... It's good for them to give me some rest. I don't need to throw too much. I could pitch in a game right now."
Center fielder Adam Jones will leave camp for Team USA on March 3, and reliever Pedro Strop (Dominican Republic) will also depart around that time. Strop, who threw a bullpen session on Thursday, will appear in a few of the Orioles' early spring games along with Jones.
"I don't worry about Pete as much with Billy [Castro] there [as pitching coach]," manager Buck Showalter said of the Dominican Republic's team. "I don't think you'll see Pedro overused."
Strop will be participating in his first Classic, and he's coming off his first season with Baltimore, a 2012 campaign in which he went 5-2 with a 2.44 ERA.
"It was a tough decision from the point that I wanted to be here," Strop said of leaving the Orioles' camp. "I just made the decision to go out there and represent my country. You don't see that very often. You see that only every four years, and you don't know where you are going to be in four years, so that was the point that made me decide to go over and pitch."
Strop struggled down the stretch last season, posting a 5.12 ERA in his final 25 appearances, but he didn't think his performance was related to fatigue and isn't worried about the Classic having any negative effects on the 162-game baseball season.
"I think it was just a bump in the road, and that's already in the past," Strop said. "I am just going to come right out and do whatever I can to help the team.
"[Castro] knows he has got to keep me fresh for the season, because that's the most important thing, is this year. You are always proud representing your country, but the important thing is the year."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. Read her blog, Britt's Bird Watch, and follow her on Twitter @britt_ghiroli. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.