Special For The Puerto Rico Daily Sun
FORT MYERS, Florida- It’s not easy these days for Kiko Calero. At least at heart. He was not at ease watching Florida Marlins teammmates Hanley Ramirez (Dominican Republic),Alfredo Amezaga and Jorge Cantu (Mexico), Matt Lindstrom (USA) and Rick VandenHurk (Netherlands) leave camp to join their country teams for the upcoming World Baseball Classic.
“It was not a comfortable decision. I wish to be pitching for Puerto Rico”, Calero said. “I definitely I will miss it”.
Meanwhile Team Puerto Rico starts today a three exhibition games set in the Gulf Coast of Florida, the veteran righthanded hurler is in the opposite side of the Sunshine State in Jupiter wearing the Marlins teal uniform.
Calero, 34, acknowledged this time his situation is different as of 2006. He is vying as a non-roster invitee one of two relief bullpen slots open this spring on Manager Fredi Gonzalez squad.
Last World Baseball Classic, he was one of the main fixture of the bullpen of the Oakland A’s. Unfortunately for him last season he missed most of the season recovering from a shoulder injury–torn rotator cuff–that limited him to five major league appearances with the A’s. Moreover he was released and finished the season in the Texas Rangers’ minor league system.
“It’s a new start for me. I already I’m missing to pitch in the Classic. It was a great experiencebut I have to ponder first in my future”, Calero said.
Another boricua from the 2006 World Baseball Classic roster already missing the action too is left-handed pitcher Willie Collazo.
Collazo, 29, was signed to a minor league contract with invitation to spring training and at present is competingagainst Venezuelan Renyel Pinto for th left-hander set up man spot. And as Calero trying to return to the majors.
Collazo last season was a Pacific Coast League’s All-Star team and was up briefly with the New York Mets in July but did not pitch, had a 4.05 ERA in 16 starts and 21 relief appearances for the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs.