A-Rod says Dominican team likely home for Classic

Updated: December 14, 2005, 12:06 PM ET
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez probably will play for the Dominican Republic in next year's inaugural World Baseball Classic.

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When the commissioner's office and the players' association announced commitments from players last week, Rodriguez's country was left blank. The New York Yankees third baseman, who last month won his second AL MVP award, was born in New York but his parents are Dominican.

"That seems to be pretty much where I'm leaning," Rodriguez said of the Dominican team during an interview Tuesday on WFAN radio. "I think it's going to be the team I'm going to represent, kind of like what [Mike] Piazza's doing with Italy."

Rodriguez said staying healthy was key during the tournament, which is being played by 16 teams from March 3-20.

"It's going to be a lot of fun. I'm excited about it and a little nervous, too, about obviously getting guys injured that time of year," he said. "You pull a hamstring, you're out for three or four weeks, that really may impact your whole season. I mean, you may have some type of ill effect going into even June or July."

In fact, the Yankees have told catcher Jorge Posada he can't play in the Classic.

Rodriguez predicted the U.S. team might be less motivated than other countries.

"I think the Latino teams are going to have a major advantage," he said. "I think that American team might take it more like an exhibition and these guys are kind of playing for their religion down there, the pride of their country."

Rodriguez also addressed the possibility that the Yankees would sign free agent Nomar Garciaparra. Manager Joe Torre told New York reporters at a function Tuesday that he had called Garciaparra to express the team's interest in having him come join the Yankees.

"That would be kind of weird," A-Rod said. "I remember almost 10 years ago we made the cover of GQ, us three as the premier shortstops in the game coming up. And now all of us may be in the same infield. I think that's kind of funny."

Rodriguez's spokesman, Steve Fortunato, said the decision will be made by Major League Baseball and the players' association.

"Alex's comments are based on discussions with the tournament organizers," Fortunato said. "The organizers are ultimately going to recommend what team Alex should be placed on, and he would follow that. We're waiting to see what that is. He wants to do whatever is best for tournament."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press