MLB.com Columnist

Jon Paul Morosi

Classic could set comeback stage for Marquis

Veteran righty ready to showcase skills with Team Israel

Classic could set comeback stage for Marquis

Jason Marquis was on his way to Arizona on Wednesday, continuing to prepare for a 2017 season that could end before Opening Day or extend through October.

"I've trained this offseason like I'm going to pitch for seven months," said Marquis. "I want to be ready for the long haul -- if it happens that way."

Marquis' short term involves a "long haul," too: The terminus of his journey is Seoul, South Korea, where he will pitch for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. Marquis, who is from Staten Island, N.Y., is a strong candidate to start Israel's first Classic game, against the host country on March 6.

After that? Well, it depends -- on how Israel plays, on how Marquis pitches, on which Major League clubs see a place for him on their depth chart. Marquis said he's interested in resuming his professional career, and he isn't placing any restrictions on where he'd be willing to do it.

Marquis, 38, spent all or part of 15 seasons in the Majors. He appeared in seven postseason series -- including the 2004 Fall Classic -- and earned a National League All-Star selection in 2009. Marquis last pitched in the big leagues with the Reds in 2015, but he's yet to file his retirement papers.

Marquis has spent the past year and a half at home in New York, immersing himself in family life and coaching his son's youth baseball team. But he's also been taking care of his arm, working out with weighted balls and making mechanical adjustments during increasingly frequent throwing sessions. Marquis said that he's back to the weight he was at age 22 or 23.

"My agents have sent out some feelers, but I didn't throw for any teams this winter," Marquis said. "The WBC is a good platform to show where I stand. Hopefully everything goes well. You never know what can happen with teams, whether it's injuries or younger pitchers not being as ready as they thought. Maybe I can snag a job."

Jason Marquis on MLB Central

Marquis' interest in pitching competitively revived last summer, as he joined a collection of recently retired Major Leaguers -- many of them former stars -- in Wichita, Kan., to compete in the National Baseball Congress World Series. Afterward, he received an inquiry from the Israeli national team about pitching in last September's Classic qualifier in Brooklyn.

Marquis met the eligibility criteria -- at least one Jewish grandparent -- and went on to pitch brilliantly, starting the opener and the championship game with only two days of rest in between. He allowed one earned run in seven combined innings over the two starts.

Marquis goes eight innings

Considering he performed so well in September after only three weeks of serious training, Marquis is optimistic about the Classic following a full Major League-caliber offseason. And he's fully aware that one victory could alter the future of baseball in Israel.

"My Jewish heritage is a huge part of the person I am today," Marquis said. "The traditions have been really important in my life. Now I have the opportunity to show more people in Israel why baseball's one of the greatest games in the world.

"I think that's one of the big ideas behind the WBC. We want to introduce baseball to countries that don't play it as much. And if we can find a way to increase the number of people interested in baseball by 5 percent or 10 percent or 15 percent in a particular country, then we've done something great."

Jon Paul Morosi is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.