Ryan Rowland-Smith made the decision he'd been putting off for weeks, passing on the chance to pitch for Australia in the World Baseball Classic.
"We talked about it yesterday, and he said he'd pretty much made up his mind but wanted to sleep on it," manager Don Wakamatsu said. "We'd have supported him either way. Now, we can control his innings, get him ready for the season by actually having him in camp."
Rowland-Smith, 26, broke into the Seattle Mariners rotation late last year and went 3-2 with a 3.50 earned run average in 12 starts. This spring, the WBC called to him and he spent much of the winter talking to family and friends about just what to do.
"They were more confused than I was," Rowland-Smith said. "They could see the advantages of staying with the team all spring, and going to the WBC."
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The left-hander had hoped at one point that he could join Team Australia and pitch in games for them while still training with the Mariners – a logistical nightmare Seattle quickly eliminated.
"It wasn't going to work," Rowland-Smith.
On Sunday, he made the tough call. Stick with his team all spring and try to pitch himself into a crowded rotation that – beyond Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard – includes candidates like Brandon Morrow, Jarrod Washburn, Carlos Silva and Garrett Olson.
"We're getting the first chance to put our eyes on a lot of guys in this camp," Wakamatsu said. "The more you see them pitch, the more you know about them. I'm glad we'll get to see Ryan all spring. I know it wasn't an easy decision."