TAMPA — Dellin Betances leaves the Yankees on March 5 to join the Dominican Republic team and prepare for the World Baseball Classic.
If the reigning WBC champions make it to the final game, March 22 in Los Angeles, the Yankees won’t get Betances back until March 24 at the earliest.
While he will be managed by Yankees first-base coach Tony Pena and work out daily, the intensity level of WBC games is greater than an exhibition tilt, which could increase the intensity a lot sooner than it normally would and possibly lead to injury.
“You do worry about that a little bit, but they know how to prepare themselves,” said Joe Girardi, who also loses Didi Gregorius, Tyler Clippard, Tommy Layne, Donovan Solano, Giovanny Gallegos and Kellin Deglan to the WBC. Luis Severino is a provisional player for the Dominican Republic. “We are helping them prepare themselves to make sure they are ready.”
Betances hopes to get into two or three exhibition games before splitting.
“It’s a great opportunity for me at this point in my career,” said Betances, who faced hitters while working out in the Dominican this winter. “I have pitched for three years, and it’s the right time for me. I am excited to represent the DR.”
Betances threw two innings in a simulated game Thursday at George M. Steinbrenner Field and looked sharp despite missing the first four days of camp, while awaiting an arbitration hearing he lost.
“I got a little tired at the end, but I felt good,” Betances said. “You get a little more adrenaline [facing hitters]. You center pitches and read [batters’] swings.”
Chase Headley, who faced Betances, said it wasn’t pleasant.
“He is uncomfortable. I was glad to be standing on the left side instead of the right,” the switch-hitting Headley said of Betances. “He has some funk to him, and his stuff is plus, plus.”
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