TAMPA, Fla. -- Sensing a chance to crack the Opening Day outfield, prospect Melky Mesa has declined to participate in the World Baseball Classic.
Bench coach Tony Pena, who is also managing the Dominican Republic squad in the tournament, said on Saturday that Mesa is passing on his chance to play with hopes of securing a big league job.
The Yankees are evaluating their outfield choices with Curtis Granderson expected to be sidelined until May. Mesa is considered the best defensive option of a mix that includes Matt Diaz, Juan Rivera, Zoilo Almonte and Ronnier Mustelier.
"It's a decision that he has to make, and he wants to be seen more. I respect that," manager Joe Girardi said. "I told him, 'Whatever you do, I'll respect what you do. If you want to play, you go play. If you want to play here, you play here.'"
Six Yankees are participating in the Classic. Second baseman Robinson Cano and left-hander Juan Cedeno will play for the Dominican Republic, infielder Walter Ibarra and Gil Velazquez will play for Mexico, first baseman Mark Teixeira will play for Team USA and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte will play for Italy.