(CBS) Coming off a season in which he finished third in the National League Cy Young race, Cubs right-hander Kyle Hendricks was asked to pitch for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic that’s currently being contested but declined because of the long season that resulted in a World Series championship.
“I would,” Hendricks said on the Spiegel and Goff Show when asked if he’d ever want to pitch for Team USA. “I was asked to pitch in one of the later rounds this year. Unfortunately, I declined, just with the long season we had and the burden of it, I wasn’t sure where my body was going to be at and being able to get ready in spring training. I felt like I had to dedicate my time to the team for now. But I would love to do it, and hopefully it can be a possibility for me in the future at some point. Any time you can play for your country, I think it’s a super special thing.”
The U.S. has advanced to the second round of the tournament but doesn’t feature its top-tier pitching staff, with the likes of Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer not participating. And just on Tuesday, right-hander Chris Archer — who started a first-round game — left Team USA to rejoin the Rays and stay on a pre-planned pitching schedule in preparation for the MLB regular season.
The 27-year-old Hendricks won the ERA title with a 2.13 mark in 2016, when he went 16-8 and also had a sparkling 0.98 WHIP.
The World Baseball Classic is currently contested every four years. Assuming it continues — there’s been pushback in some corners because it hasn’t attracted all the top-tier talent that would rather devote time to their MLB teams — Hendricks’ next chance to play for Team USA would be in 2021.
“I would’ve loved to do it this year,” Hendricks said. “It just happened to be coming off a long year and everything. The point I’m at in my career, it didn’t work out. But the games have been just so intense and fun to watch, it would be something pretty awesome to play in.
“The passion you see of all the guys playing is really cool to see.”
Listen to Hendricks’ full interview on the Spiegel and Parkins Show below.