SARASOTA, Fla. -- Team Spain manager Mauro Mazzotti said right-hander Sergio Perez will get the start Friday in the club's World Baseball Classic debut against Puerto Rico at Hiram Bithorn Stadium.
Perez, 28, spent last year with Houston's Triple-A affiliate in Oklahoma City, where he went 4-2 with a 4.54 ERA in 75 1/3 innings over 40 appearances, including four starts. He was a second-round pick by the Astros in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Tampa and has spent the last seven years in Houston's Minor League system, compiling a 37-42 record and 4.23 ERA.
Mazzotti didn't announce starters for Saturday's game against the Dominican Republic or Sunday's contest against Venezuela. Instead, he'll have his entire staff prepared to pitch behind Perez on Friday.
"We might keep all the guys for one game, and whoever's not going to pitch will start the next game. We don't have the luxury [of setting up a rotation]," Mazzotti said. "We could keep everybody together, see if we can get the best we can in case we have a chance to win the game. If not, the best guy can pitch the next game."
In other words: If Spain has a chance to win Friday's game -- no small accomplishment given the Major League-caliber competition in Pool C -- Mazzotti could use all his top arms and put everything into securing Spain's first Classic victory. If the game is clearly out of reach, he can opt to hold Spain's best pitchers until Saturday or Sunday.
In addition to Perez, Spain's best available options are probably right-handers Richard Castillo, who tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings against the Orioles on Wednesday, and Yoanner Negrin, who held the Pirates to just two hits and struck out two over two innings Tuesday.