January 29, 2009 / 3:41 PM / 10 years ago

Ponson to play for Netherlands in World Classic

New York Yankees starting pitcher Sidney Ponson pitches in the first inning of their American League baseball game against the Texas Rangers in Arlington, Texas August 6, 2008. REUTERS/Mike Stone

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sidney Ponson will pitch for the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic, the first Major League player to confirm his participation in the event, officials said Thursday.

The 32-year-old right-hander, a native of Aruba, was 8-5 with a 5.04 ERA last season with the New York Yankees.

Currently a free agent, Ponson spent most of his 11 years in the majors with the Baltimore Orioles, but also played for San Francisco, St. Louis, Minnesota and Texas.

Netherlands-born Bert Blyleven, who played 22 years in the big leagues, will be a pitching coach for the Netherlands, Major League Baseball said in a statement.

In the first round of the WBC, which will be played in March, the Netherlands will compete against the Dominican Republic, Panama and hosts Puerto Rico.

The semi-finals and final of the event will take place at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on March 21-23.

Writing by Steve Ginsburg in Tampa, Fla.; Editing by Justin Palmer

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