Hendriks opts out of Classic to prep for season

Righty wants to avoid overextending himself with travel, competition

Hendriks opts out of Classic to prep for season

MESA, Ariz. -- A's right-hander Liam Hendriks has elected out of the World Baseball Classic, forgoing a trip to Tokyo with Team Australia in favor of remaining in Arizona.

Hendriks is healthy, but the prospect of making a pair of 15-hour flights within one week and having to immediately return to the mound for the A's in tiptop form proved disconcerting for the 28-year-old reliever.

"I've been wanting to go in my heart as soon as it came out, but when I really sat down and thought about it, I'm not quite where I want to be in competitive games yet," Hendriks said Saturday morning. "I'm not hurt or anything like that. There's no issues. I feel great physically, but it's one of those things. I know that if I get into a situation where, if I push it a little bit more, I'm going to overextend myself, and I don't want to do that, and I don't want to risk this season coming up with Oakland."

Hendriks was originally slated to make his Cactus League debut in Saturday's opener against the Cubs but will instead be delayed from entering game action for a few days since the A's no longer have to accelerate his schedule. He has not ruled himself out of participating in Round 2 -- set for March 12-15 -- but it would still require a trip across the Pacific Ocean.

A's outfielder Khris Davis, originally committed to Team Mexico, also backed out of WBC 2017 competition last week, citing his desire to stay with the A's and prepare for his second season with them. Manager Bob Melvin has been supportive of both players' decisions.

"Obviously, the most important thing has to be getting ready for your team, and if [Hendriks] feels like that affects that -- certainly looking at the travel and everything, it's immense -- so there's no way he could stay on the schedule that we would want him to stay on and he wants to stay on," Melvin said. "I appreciate the fact he wants to pitch for his country, but typically guys are eager to do it, and then when you take a harder look at the schedule, sometimes it doesn't make sense."

Hendriks stumbled out of the gate with the A's last year, pitching to an 8.27 ERA in his first 11 games, before landing on the disabled list with a right triceps strain. The right-hander returned in dominant form, posting a 2.23 ERA in his final 42 appearances.

"I'm trying to get back to where I was at the end of last year," said Hendriks, who played for Team Australia in 2009. "It's just a better decision for my career and my season."

That didn't make it any easier, but "getting into a stadium filled with 50,000 people gets that adrenaline going a little bit more than I would like right now," he said. "I could pitch in a game right now and be completely content, but I'm not confident in all of my pitches right now. I'm confident in my Spring Training pitches, but it's not midseason form like I want to be to be able to perform for that team."

Jane Lee has covered the A's for MLB.com since 2010. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.