SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rockies right-hander Jhoulys Chacin might receive his wish -- pitching for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic.
Because a nerve issue in his chest ended up limiting him to 14 starts last season, he was not included on Venezuela's provisional roster. However, with Mariners star pitcher Felix Hernandez having bowed out after recently signing a seven-year, $175 million contract -- he didn't want to risk injury -- the door has opened some for Chacin, who could be invited as a replacement.
On Monday, Chacin faced hitters for the first time and felt good about the session. He said he would love to pitch in the Classic and expressed that to Rockies executive vice president of Major League operations Bill Geivett.
"They want to see how I feel, and how I look, too," Chacin said. "My priority is the team here. I really want to go. It would be like a dream for me to pitch for Venezuela."
Chacin said if there are no unforeseen problems with his physical -- Venezuelan club officials are awaiting the results -- he can be placed on the roster.
Teammate Carlos Gonzalez, a left fielder who is one of the Venezuelan team's headliners, said he is happy for his countryman but wants to make sure that he will be healthy for the Rockies. Catcher Ramon Hernandez also is on Venezuela's squad.
"He's very competitive, and he always showed that he wanted to represent Venezuela," Gonzalez said. "For us, it's nice. We don't get that opportunity very often. It's going to be our first time. I think that will help him in the process of getting ready."
Chacin pointed out that he proved his health by pitching in winter ball in Venezuela, so he should be beyond the injury concern.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Hardball in the Rockies, and follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.