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A's reliever Figueroa won't play in Classic

PHOENIX -- Multiple clubs have multiple players participating in this year's World Baseball Classic. Not the A's.

Oakland anticipated lefty reliever Pedro Figueroa being its lone representative in the Classic, but the pitcher's agent recently informed the club that Figueroa has decided it's in his best interest not to join Team Dominican Republic this spring but, rather, stay with the A's, leaving them with zero participants.

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The 27-year-old Figueroa, who posted a 3.32 ERA in 19 appearances as a rookie last season, can now keep his focus within the confines of camp, where he's one of several relievers competing for just a couple of bullpen spots. Having more time to pitch in front of the A's ensures he will get every opportunity to earn one.

The news certainly serves as some relief to the team, allowing every player to remain on the same page.

"I don't think anybody would tell you it's not [a relief]," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "If guys really want to do it, we're all for it. We understand that you don't get to do this that often, and if you get an invite to do something like that we certainly support them. But at this point we don't have anybody, and that's fine by us."

A's closer Grant Balfour strongly considered joining the Australian team for the Classic but ultimately chose to remain with the A's and get his arm ready for the regular season, keeping in mind he'll be a free agent by year's end.

"I have to take care of myself," Balfour said.

"Not to be selfish, but you know exactly what they're doing every single day if they remain here," pitching coach Curt Young said. "It's a great opportunity, and these guys usually have the choice, and deciding not to play for their country is tough, but it's a situation where they're getting themselves ready for our season."

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