Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena on Thursday defended his usage of closer Jeurys Familia in the World Baseball Classic over a report that some New York Mets officials felt Pena had overused Familia during the team’s opening games.
Though Mets manager Terry Collins has said he is fine with how Pena has used Familia, who saved 51 games for New York last season, the Daily News reported Monday that two Mets sources faulted Pena for using Familia in consecutive games in helping the Dominicans win Pool C over the weekend in Miami.
“It’s been addressed,” a Mets source close to Familia said, according to the Daily News report. “It’s been addressed.”
Pena spoke out in defense of his usage of Familia in an interview with ESPN Digital before the Dominican Republic’s 3-0 win over Venezuela in a second-round game Thursday night.
Familia pitched the ninth inning for the save, allowing two bloop singles that put runners on the corners before striking out Alcides Escobar to end it.
”Listen, I didn’t hear any of that,” Pena told ESPN Digital’s Enrique Rojas. “Familia is among those who have thrown the fewest pitches of any pitcher on the team.”
After Thursday’s one-inning save, Familia, 27, has tossed 3⅓ innings in four relief appearances so far at the tournament. He closed out the Dominican Republic’s opening 9-2 win over Canada by retiring the game’s final batter on four pitches, then used 11 pitches to get the save in a 7-4 win over the United States in Game 2. He then needed nine pitches to record three outs in a 10-3 win over Colombia.
”We’re definitely determined to win, but at the same time, me as the manager, I have to be very careful with the players,” Pena said. ”In our last game, I didn’t use [Hansel] Robles, and I didn’t plan to use him, because he had already pitched three times in the tournament. I also didn’t use [Alex] Colome and, thanks to God, Familia.”
Pena said he is taking great pains not to overuse any pitchers in the WBC and to avoid using them on short rest.
“I refer to all the pitch-count charts, the pitching reports, and closely track all pitches our pitchers make each inning,” Pena told ESPN. “The last thing I want to see is any of my players pick up an injury here.”