Brian Kotloff
Saturday February 9th, 2013

After initially committing to pitch for his native Venezuela, Mariners ace Felix Hernandez will now skip the World Baseball Classic, according to sports reporter Fernando Arreaza. The change of plans comes the day after Hernandez agreed to a seven-year, $175-million contract with Seattle, the richest contract ever given to a pitcher.

[LEMIRE: Hernandez deservedly wears crown as game's highest-paid pitcher]

The new deal and additional "pressure" from the team led to Hernandez's decision, according to's Danny Knobler.

The 26-year-old right-hander pitched for Venezuela in the 2009 Classic and went on to win a career-high 19 games for the Mariners that year. Including 2009, he has finished in the top four in Cy Young Award voting in three of the last four seasons. The tournament begins on March 2 and runs until March 19 during MLB spring training. Many of the rosters for the 16 teams, including Team USA, have been notable more for the absences of star players than the players actually participating.

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