(Reuters) - Former Cy Young winner Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers has declined an invitation to pitch for the United States at next month's World Baseball Classic (WBC).
Verlander, who helped the Tigers reach last year's World Series, had left open the possibility of participating in the WBC when provisional rosters were announced last month but now said he needs the time to prepare for the upcoming 2013 Major League Baseball season.
"I don't want to have to feel rushed to catch up to where I need to be," Verlander told reporters at Detroit's spring training camp in Florida on Monday.
The U.S. team begins play in the WBC on March 8 and the Tigers open their MLB campaign on April 1.
The hard-throwing right-hander decided he needed to give his arm a rest after throwing 266 innings last year following a 271-inning season in 2011.
"I knew it was going to be a long shot the whole time," said Verlander, who fell just short of repeating as Cy Young winner after going 17-8 with a 2.64 earned run average last season. "But I wanted to give it a shot."
Team USA added Washington Nationals starter Gio Gonzalez to the roster over the weekend and has an open spot for a pitcher, since Kris Medlen of the Atlanta Braves pulled out.
(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)