SEATTLE — After getting to play in the World Baseball Classic as a teenager, A’s reliever Liam Hendriks would enjoy the chance to play for Team Australia again this spring.
Officials from the national team have been in contact with Hendriks, though he says there are factors he needs to consider before he would eventually commit. Surely one of those is his health. The right-hander missed 37 games in the first half with a strained right triceps, but he’s been one of the A’s best relievers since returning in mid-June.
The fourth edition of the WBC will begin in February. Hendriks was a wide-eyed 18-year-old, fresh out of his first season in the Gulf Coast League, when he participated in the 2009 WBC. The Australians beat Mexico, lost to Cuba and then lost a rematch with Mexico and failed to advance. Hendriks appeared in two of the games and was proud to be on the same pitching staff at that time with established major leaguers like Damian Moss and Travis Blackley.
“It was awesome,” Hendriks said. “Those guys had a lot more experience. It was exciting to be able to pick their brains.”
Should Hendriks participate, the Australian roster could have four players who played in the majors this season — Twins third baseman James Beresford, Royals pitcher Peter Moylan and Tigers pitcher Warwick Saupold could very well play.
According to Hendriks, there’s another former A’s reliever who could boost Team Australia — Grant Balfour, who retired from the majors after the 2015 season.
“Moylan’s going to work on him a little bit,” Hendriks said.
Lost in the shuffle of Saturday night’s 9-8 win in extra innings was the performance of A’s reliever Ryan Dull. The rookie gave up the tying run in the eighth, but after manager Bob Melvin had him intentionally walk Robinson Cano to load the bases, Dull struck out Seattle cleanup man Nelson Cruz on a slider to keep it an 8-8 game.
“Yes, he gave up a run, but he’s in his 70th appearance. He weighs about 50 pounds wet. He’s in an almost no-win situation,” Melvin said. “I make him walk a guy. He’s got the bases loaded, got the place roaring down on him with one of the best hitters in the game, and he got through it. If ever there was a situation where he knows he can pitch in any situation, that was the one. And I thought that was the key out in the game.”