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Street interested in '09 Classic

Street interested in '09 Classic

ARLINGTON -- The inaugural World Baseball Classic was a success by virtually every measure, save some squawking about the early workload contributing to injuries among pitchers.

A's reliever Huston Street, who pitched for Team USA in 2006, downplayed the injury angle Tuesday when asked if he'd like to play in next spring's World Baseball Classic, saying the tournament left him better prepared for the regular season than ever before.

"I had my career high in appearances (69) and saves (37) that year," Street noted before the second game of a three-game series against host Texas at Rangers Ballpark.

"My ERA (3.31) was up from the year before (1.72), but you can't say that's from [the WBC]. That could just be, one year you come in three times with the bases loaded and get the guy out, and the next year the guy gets a hit.

"I felt like the [Classic] was a positive for my game."

Street was coming off his American League Rookie of the Year performance in 2005 when he was selected to play in the first World Baseball Classic. This year he's been displaced as Oakland's closer by rookie Brad Ziegler, but if Team USA comes calling again, Street will eagerly answer.

"Absolutely, no question about it," he said. "I considered playing in the [Classic] the most fun, enjoyable experience of my baseball life. I've never been on an All-Star team, but I can only imagine that it feels pretty similar."

Loaded with young and relatively inexperienced players, the A's likely won't have many players selected to play in the Classic. Rookie outfielder Ryan Sweeney and catcher Kurt Suzuki are eligible to play for Team USA, and while Suzuki said it would be "cool" to play, Sweeney seemed lukewarm on the idea at best.

"I don't really have an opinion on it," Sweeney said. "I'll do whatever they tell me."

Rookie outfielder Carlos Gonzalez said he's been asked by Venezuelan officials if he'd be interested in playing.

"I said yes, of course," Gonzalez said.

A's manager Bob Geren said he'd have no problem with any of his players participating in the 2009 Classic, provided they were "physically prepared."

"I personally like it, and it's always an honor to play for your country," Geren said. "Anyone can get injured any time, so to say the WBC contributed to guys' injuries that year is probably unfair. ... As long as guys have ample time to rest and get ready, I don't see a problem."

Oakland assistant general manager David Forst said the team wouldn't stop any of its players from participating in the 2009 Classic, which opens March 8 and runs through March 23, unless the player's health is a concern.

The A's refused to release Rich Harden to play for Canada in 2006

"If you have medical reasons, you have the ability to keep the player out of it," Forst said. "But we think it's a great event, and if our healthy guys want to play, that's great."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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