GLENDALE, Ariz. -- White Sox manager Robin Ventura doesn’t mind if Paul Konerko wants to play for Team USA, and it could happen.
Konerko may soon receive an invite to play for the U.S. team in the World Baseball Classic as Team USA manager Joe Torre mentioned the possibility to Ventura on Tuesday. The White Sox first baseman could potentially replace Mark Teixeira, who earlier in the day withdrew from the WBC because he has a mild strain of his right forearm tendon.
The White Sox hosted Team USA in an exhibition at Camelback Ranch and the teams played to a 4-4 tie.
“If he’s ready to go and play, it’s his decision,” Ventura said. “He has been around long enough to know if it’s going to help him or hurt him be ready for the season. It’s going to be up to him, whether he feels he’s even ready right now. I don’t think the mindset was there that he was going to play in it, but we’ll see.”
Team USA’s pool play is based in Phoenix, which means for at least the first round Konerko wouldn’t have to leave town. The U.S. squad plays Mexico on Friday at Chase Field and has pool games against Italy and Canada on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
If Team USA advances to the second round, Konerko would be gone through at least March 16 as the tournament moves on to Miami. If USA reaches the finals, the team also travels to San Francisco. The WBC title game is set for March 19.