By Bruce Levine–
GLENDALE, Ariz. (CBS) — As White Sox left-hander Jose Quintana remains on the trade market with an uncertain future, he does know for sure who he’ll be pitching for in the next couple weeks.
His native Colombia. As Quintana prepares for the World Baseball Classic, he threw in a Cactus League game last week and had a bullpen session Friday.
“This was the perfect time for practice,” Quintana said. “This way if you are missing with a pitch, you can go back and repeat the pitch again. That is the reason I liked throwing (on the side). I threw three innings and 45 pitches. I feel pretty good right now.”
Quintana will leave next week to join Colombia and pitch for it until the team is eliminated from the international competition.
“I will join my country’s team on Friday,” Quintana said. “I think we have a good chance if we do all the small things in the game and play good defense. That will be the main point of making the second round for us.”
Quintana — who will start the White Sox’s opener on April 3 if he’s not traded before then — is ready to get the competitive juices flowing earlier than usual.
“There will be some difference,” Quintana said. “This is the first time I get to represent my country. The game of baseball is the same. You will compete for the White Sox or Columbia. It is just a different feeling because you have the whole country behind you.”
Soccer is the biggest sport in the world, including in Colombia, but baseball’s popularity has increased in recent years there, Quintana said. Quintana and Colombia open WBC play against the United States in Miami on Friday.
“It’s the second sport,” Quintana said. “With this opportunity to play in this tournament, a lot of kids in my country will want to play this game. They will pay more attention to this sport. My family is very excited about this competition. They will go to Miami and watch it. This is a pretty good time for all of us.”
Bruce Levine covers the Cubs and White Sox for 670 The Score and CBSChicago.com. Follow him on Twitter @MLBBruceLevine.