It's Official: No Johan for Venezuela

New York Mets ace Johan Santana will not pitch for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic next month.

The two-time Major League Baseball pitcher of the year will miss the tournament, the Venezuelan Baseball Federation announced on Friday.

Federation president Edwin Zerpa said organizers of the tournament, World Baseball Classic Inc., were not willing to pay the high insurance premium required for the Mets to clear Santana after he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.

"It puts him in a high-risk category," Zerpa said.

Santana tested his knee this week for the first time since having surgery on Oct. 1 to repair torn cartilage. He threw 18 pitches and participated in conditioning drills without reporting any discomfort.

The Mets had expressed concerns regarding Santana's potential risk of injury following surgery, but Zerpa said the club was willing to allow Santana to participate in the tournament if he felt good physically.

Venezuela's first game is on March 7 against Italy in Toronto.

Venezuela was eliminated in the second round of the inaugural WBC in 2006.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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