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Simon excited to join Dominican team for Classic

GOODYEAR, Ariz. -- Reds reliever Alfredo Simon will be the second player in big league camp to depart for the World Baseball Classic in March. Simon was picked to participate with the Dominican Republic.

"They called and asked me if I wanted to go there. I want to represent my country," Simon said on Sunday." The last time, I was supposed to go but I couldn't because the team said I couldn't go there. This year, the [Reds] said I could go. I'm happy.

"I'm ready to go. I'm going to throw a couple of outings here before I go there. It will be a new experience for me."

Second baseman Brandon Phillips will represent Team USA at the Classic. Two other main players, Canadian first baseman Joey Votto and Dominican pitcher Johnny Cueto, are coming off of injuries and haven't learned yet if they will be allowed to play for their countries.

Simon, 31, was a long reliever for Cincinnati last season after being claimed off of waivers from the Orioles two days before Opening Day. In 36 appearances, he was 3-2 with a 2.66 ERA and worked 61 innings with 22 walks, 52 strikeouts and only two home runs allowed.

On four occasions, Simon saved the bullpen with three-inning appearances. As a first-time long reliever in the big leagues, he stranded 12 of his 16 inherited baserunners and retired his first batter 22 times.

"I talked to a lot of guys that said every time I go out to do the best I can to keep everything down," Simon said. "I want to have another good year, and do better than last year."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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