D.R. vows to skip World Classic if not considered as host site

Updated: March 3, 2008, 5:08 PM ET
By Enrique Rojas | ESPNdeportes.com

ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Dominican Republic will not participate in the second World Baseball Classic if it is not considered among the sites for one of the three rounds of the tournament, according to team officials.

"If we do not receive any of the phases, we will not play in the 2009 World Classic," Leonardo Matos Berrido, general director of the Dominican team, told ESPNdeportes.com.

"We sent a formal request to the organizing committee of the World Classic last November, and they didn't even have the courtesy to respond in either way," Matos Berrido, who also is president of the Winter Dominican Baseball League, added.

The committee that will form the Dominican team, made up by the winter league, the Dominican Baseball Federation and some important sports figures of the island, called a news conference Monday to discuss its decision.

"I am not aware of such comments, nor have I been contacted by any Dominican authority to speak on the matter," said Paul Archey, vice president of Major League Baseball who is also in charge of matters relating to the World Classic, via e-mail.

"Today we are sending another letter to MLB, where in addition to reiterate our request for one of the phases, we are informing our decision of not participating in the World Classic if our country is not taken into account," Matos Berrido said.

The second World Classic will be played in March 2009. Potential first-round sites include Toronto, Mexico City, Tokyo, and San Juan, Puerto Rico, sources said. The second and third rounds will be played in the United States; Los Angeles has been mentioned as the potential host of the finals.

"We believe that the Dominican Republic deserves this kind of opportunity, to present events of this magnitude," Hector Pereyra, president of the Dominican Baseball Federation, said. "Over the past 30 years, our country has produced the largest number of foreign players in the major leagues."

Dominican officials said some Dominican-born major leaguers have authorized the use of their names in an effort to bring the tournament to their homeland.

"Those who support our position are players like Moises Alou, Jose Reyes, Albert Pujols, Pedro Martinez, David Ortiz, Miguel Tejada and many others," Dominican team spokesman Jorge Torres said.

Two weeks ago, Archey said the same 16 countries who participated in the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006 have been invited for 2009. There also is a possibility that the field will expand to 24 countries for the 2013 tournament.

Former major league outfielder Stan Javier will be the Dominican team's general manager. A manager has yet to be named.

"We are working toward 2009, but if we do not receive one of the phases, they can start looking for a replacement for the Dominican Republic," Matos Berrido said.

Enrique Rojas is a writer for ESPNDeportes.com.

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.