By Brian Kotloff
February 08, 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.

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.

absences of star players

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