Reds block Johnny Cueto from World Baseball Classic

02/21/2013 1:04 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Johnny Cueto pitched for the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic.(AP)
Cincinnati Reds ace Johnny Cueto will not be pitching for the Dominican Republic in this year’s World baseball Classic, with the right-hander saying his MLB club has blocked him from participation.

''I wanted to pitch for the Dominican but the team said no. It's all right,'' Cueto told the media Thursday. ''I am going to work to get ready for the season. I was ready to pitch. I'm 100 percent.''

Although MLB teams are not technically allowed to forbid players from participating under usual circumstances, the Reds were allowed to keep Cueto off-limits because he was injured at the end of 2012; the right-hander left Game 1 of the NL Division Series against San Francisco after just eight pitches due to a strained right oblique, and did not make another appearance in the series.

While Cueto said he would be watching the WBC and rooting for his home squad, which will be managed by Yankees bench coach Tony Pena and also features Robinson Cano, Reds skipper Dusty Baker was “relieved” that his ace would be in Arizona facing Cactus League competition and not in Puerto Rico battling WBC Pool C competition with his countrymen.

''I'm not sure happy is the right word. I'm more relieved,'' Baker said. ''I understand the pressure for the Latin players to pitch for their country. If he was a 10-game winner instead of a 19-game winner, there wouldn't be as much pressure.''

Cueto was 19-9 with a 2.78 ERA in 33 starts during the regular season last year. This would have been his second appearance in the WBC, as he pitched for the Dominican Republic in 2009 and picked up a victory during pool play.

Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips will play for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic, while first baseman Joey Votto is still unsure if he will play for Team Canada.

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