MESA, Ariz. – After being frozen out of the biggest moments in the World Series, maybe Hector Rondon will rediscover something during the World Baseball Classic.
The Cubs gave Rondon the green light to leave camp after Tuesday's workout and join Team Venezuela in San Diego for the second round of the international showcase, another sign that the right-handed reliever has recovered from the triceps injury that left him at less than full strength last October.
"It's going to be intense," Rondon said. "I'm excited, because I've never pitched for my country, and I feel like it's almost going to be the same adrenaline as the playoffs or the World Series."
Rondon never quite got back into rhythm after that second-half injury, which put him outside manager Joe Maddon's circle of trust and contributed to Aroldis Chapman throwing 97 pitches combined in Games 5, 6 and 7 against the Cleveland Indians.
If Rondon can become the elite setup guy the Cubs envisioned when they made that blockbuster Chapman trade with the New York Yankees – and Pedro Strop, Koji Uehara and new closer Wade Davis stay healthy – then this could become a lights-out bullpen.
"It's good for him," Maddon said. "Talking to him, he's really excited about representing his country, which I think is cool. Watching him throw, he's ready to go. He's in good shape.
"I actually think him getting into that competition right now is going to be a good thing for him. It's one of those win-win situations."
Rondon – who saved 77 games across the last three seasons as the Cubs blossomed from a last-place team into World Series champions – again said "I don't care" when asked about his role once he returns from the World Baseball Classic.
"When Aroldis walked in the door last year, all of a sudden he was pushed into a different situation," Maddon said. "He was wonderful about it, a great team guy about it. But internally you got to feel something, and I thought he dealt with it really well.
"Now you got Wade Davis walking in the door. Before we actually culminated that deal, I got a chance to talk with Ronnie on the phone. And, again, he was magnanimous.
"Everything was great. I'm sure there might be just a part of him that might have been injured by that a little bit. However, I anticipate he's going to be fine."