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Jurrjens opts not to pitch in Classic

Netherlands native forgoes opportunity to prepare for season

"I've got to think about my future before fun," said Jair Jurrjens about his decision to not play for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic. (John Bazemore/AP)

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Coming off the busiest season of his young professional career, Jair Jurrjens has decided to decline the opportunity to pitch for The Netherlands in the upcoming World Baseball Classic.

Jurrjens never seemed fully committed to pitch in the Classic, and his decision was made when the Braves told him that they would want him to return to Spring Training after making his first-round start for The Netherlands in Puerto Rico.

"I don't want to just go there for one game and come back," said Jurrjens, who completed a professional career-high 188 innings last year. "If I go, I want to go and spend the time there. The Classic is going to come back anyway. I've got to think about my future before fun."

Had Jurrjens opted to pitch for The Netherlands, there's a chance he might have been pitted against Puerto Rico's Javier Vazquez, who is the only candidate for Atlanta's starting rotation who has committed to pitch in this year's Classic.

Jorge Campillo hasn't decided whether he'll pitch for Mexico, and when he signed in January, Kenshin Kawakami said that he wouldn't be pitching for Japan.

"If [Jurrjens] had gone, it wouldn't have been much time probably," said Braves manager Bobby Cox, noting that The Netherlands isn't expected to advance to the second round. "But it's an honor to play for your country. If they wish to, it's fine with us."

Because he's competing in the Classic, Chipper Jones was given permission to participate when the Braves held their first workout of the season for pitchers and catchers on Sunday morning at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex.

Jones and All-Star catcher Brian McCann are the only Braves players who will compete for the United States team. If Team USA advances to the finals on March 22, McCann would be away from camp for three weeks.

With three new pitchers (Derek Lowe, Vazquez and Kawakami) in his rotation, Cox isn't excited about the fact that McCann's extended absence will erase the opportunity for him to gain a greater comfort level with these new hurlers.

The Braves will play five Grapefruit League games before McCann leaves on March 1 to prepare for a mini-camp with the U.S. team in Clearwater, Fla.

"I'd hate to see him be gone for three weeks, but it will work," Cox said. "We'll get him in to catch them. We've got three new starters in there and possibly four. You have to get a feel for what they like to throw, locations and what they're thinking. It will be fine. It will work out."

Mark Bowman is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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