GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Kenley Jansen is ready to help the Netherlands.
The Los Angeles Dodgers closer said Wednesday he will join the Netherlands at the World Baseball Classic in time for Monday’s championship round opener.
Jansen, an All-Star in 2016 who finished the year with a career high 47 saves, chose not to compete with the team in first- and second-round pool play in Asia. The Netherlands advanced to the final round early Wednesday with a 14-1 win over Cuba in Tokyo.
“I’m going,” Jansen said at the Dodgers’ spring training complex. “Hopefully to pitch and to try to win it. That’s the reason I’m going.”
Jansen said he spoke with good friend Jurickson Profar, an infielder on the Dutch team who plays for the Texas Rangers. Like Jansen, Profar is from Curacao.
Jansen also talked to Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens before making his decision to join the team.
Jansen said he is set to pitch on Monday per his spring training outings schedule, so it lines up with his appearance plan leading up to the regular season.
He said pitching in Dodger Stadium, site of the WBC finals, helped seal his decision.
“I have to say, guys that I grew up playing baseball with, talked to Jurickson on the phone, Hensley on the phone, they’re playing hard,” Jansen said. “Watching them, why not?”
Jansen welcomes the chance to get away from spring training to pitch in meaningful games. Japan has also advanced to the championship round of the WBC, with the two teams waiting for the top two finishers from Pool F between the U.S., Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Puerto Rico.
“Once you get the adrenalin going, it definitely will help,” he said.
Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he and his coaches had discussed Jansen going to the WBC, if the Netherlands got as far as they have.
“It’s come to that, so I know he’s excited and it’s good,” Roberts said. “For Kenley, it’s more about pitching for the Netherlands, being with his countrymen and something that he has pride in. With where he’s at in the game and his status in the game, I think the most important thing is that he gets an opportunity to pitch for his country.”
(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)