Rules put limitations on pitchers in Classic
No starter can throw more than 65 pitches in first round games.
PHOENIX (AP) -- No matter how good Jake Peavy is or how many batters Roger Clemens mows down for the United States, their appearances in round one of the World Baseball Classic will be brief.
The rules insist on it.
"I think they're very important," said Peavy, the San Diego right-hander who will start the U.S. opener against Mexico Tuesday. "Obviously you don't want to tax your body. You get in the heat of battle and you're going to want to stay in there when you probably shouldn't."
This, after all, is supposed to be spring training, when pitchers are slowly, methodically working their way into regular season shape.
Among the rules:
No pitcher in round one can throw more than 65 pitches, unless it's to complete the at-bat where he reaches No. 65. The number rises to 80 in the second round and 95 in the semifinals and finals.
If a pitcher throws more than 50 pitches, he must have the next four days off.
If he throws more than 30, he must have one day off.
Relievers can pitch only two consecutive days without a day off.
"I don't think it's anything we wouldn't have done anyhow, to be honest with you," U.S. pitching coach Marcel Lachemann. "We've been in contact with every one of the organizations and each one of the pitching coaches as to where their guys are at and what they would want them to do. I would be very surprised if we even came to close to any of the pitch counts."
Team is pitcher-heavy
The restrictions are a main reason the U.S. roster is so pitcher-heavy. Fourteen of the 30 players on the roster are pitchers, 10 of them relievers. Five of them had 31 or more saves apiece last season.
"It's the depth and the versatility it gives us," Lachemann said. "We've got basically 10 guys that can jump in there anywhere."
Restrictions or no restrictions, there will be no holding back on the intensity at a time of the year where pitching appearances are normally low-key with no concern of wins or losses.
"Nobody's going to go out there and go half-speed with the 'United States of America' across your chest," Peavy said after Saturday's practice at Chase Field. "The boys are taking a lot of pride in putting this uniform on. Obviously you can't be foolish and maybe cost your season or your team with an injury. You've got to be more respectful than that. But if I feel like you can go full bore for three innings, I'm going to do it."
After two days of workouts, the U.S. team faced San Francisco in an exhibition game Saturday at the Giants' spring training facility in Scottsdale. The teams played 10 innings to allow U.S. manager Buck Martinez to use most of his players.
Atlanta's Chipper Jones started at third base, with Alex Rodriguez -- one of three Yankees on the squad -- coming off the bench. Martinez said he has no plans to use Rodriguez at shortstop, at least at this stage of the competition.
Clemens will start today and throw two innings, with Al Leiter, a late addition after C.C. Sabathia pulled out, coming on after that to throw two more.
The 43-year-old Clemens, who hasn't said if he will play again this season, went to dinner Friday night with Derek Jeter and said he is savoring the personal relationships as much as the chance to compete on the field.
"When we talk about the experience we're going to have as teammates throughout this, it's not just the experiences you're going to have on the field," he said. "It's the things you're going to carry with you for a long time young and old players on this team, after it's all said and done."
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