A-Rod will play for U.S. in World Baseball Classic
NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez plans to play for the United States.
New York Yankees
His allegiance torn between the Dominican Republic and United States, Rodriguez finally made up his mind Tuesday night and decided he will participate in the World Baseball Classic as a member of the U.S. team.
"In recent weeks, following dialogue with caring friends and players, both Dominican and American, I reached the conclusion that if I played in the Classic, I would play for the United States and honor my American citizenship," Rodriguez said in a statement on his Web site.
"I appreciate the support and understanding of my fellow Dominican players and friends who aided me in making this decision. The World Baseball Classic offers baseball and its fans an exciting new forum and I look forward, if selected, to representing the United States in what will be baseball's greatest international competition."
Rodriguez vacillated until the very end. After speaking with the New York Yankees third baseman earlier Tuesday, players' association chief operating officer Gene Orza thought the two-time MVP was leaning toward not playing at all.
Later in the day, Rodriguez made his decision to participate, according to agent Scott Boras.
"The guy is one of the best players on the planet. He's finally made up his mind on a very difficult decision. If he wants to play for the U.S., we're definitely glad to have him,'' U.S. general manager Bob Watson said.
Eric Chavez, Oakland's Gold Glove third baseman, also was among 10 players added to the U.S. roster Tuesday along with pitchers Ben Sheets, Danny Haren, Brett Myers and Gary Majewski; and outfielders Luis Gonzalez, Jeff Francoeur, Matt Holliday and Randy Winn. Forty-two players were announced Monday.
While Rodriguez made his choice at last, tournament organizers remained unsure whether the Bush administration will allow Cuba to participate.
The U.S. Treasury Department last month denied baseball's application for Cuba to play in the United States. A permit is needed because of laws governing certain transactions with Fidel Castro's communist country, which generally is not allowed to receive U.S. currency.
After Cuba promised to donate any money to victims of Hurricane Katrina, baseball reapplied for a permit and was still awaiting a decision on that second application.
"We are very hopeful that ... Cuba will be allowed to participate on the terms that have been negotiated," said Bob DuPuy, baseball's chief operating officer. "It is critical that Cuba participates. Cuba is an important international program, the defending Olympic champion, and ought to be in the World Baseball Classic."
Treasury Department spokeswoman Molly Millerwise said no decision had been made.
Puerto Rico has threatened to pull out if Cuba isn't allowed to play. And baseball's world governing body, the International Baseball Federation, says it would withdraw its sanction of the tournament.
|“||I hope that these kids are given an opportunity to play, because whatever happened before, they had nothing to do with it. I just hope they have an opportunity to compete. They really deserve to. They have some great ballplayers in Cuba. ”|
|— Hank Aaron|
Even home run king Hank Aaron thinks that would be a shame.
"I hope that these kids are given an opportunity to play, because whatever happened before, they had nothing to do with it," Aaron said in Washington at an event to promote the World Baseball Classic and celebrate 130 years of Japan-U.S. baseball history. "I just hope they have an opportunity to compete. They really deserve to. They have some great ballplayers in Cuba."
Rodriguez, perhaps baseball's best all-around player, is eligible to play for the U.S. team and the Dominican Republic because he was raised in the United States but his parents are Dominican.
He said last month that he intended to play for the Dominican team, then said he wouldn't play at all because he didn't want to offend either country.
Rodriguez was included on the Dominican Republic's preliminary roster. Even after the country submitted its preliminary roster, general manager Stan Javier said he was unsure whether Rodriguez would play for his team.
Provisional rosters of up to 60 players for each country were due at midnight EST on Tuesday and were to be announced Wednesday. The final 30-man rosters for the 16-nation tournament will be chosen from those 60-player pools shortly before the start of the event, scheduled for March 3-20.
Any player not on a provisional roster cannot participate. A player can be on multiple 60-man rosters but only one 30-man roster, Major League Baseball Players Association spokesman Greg Bouris said.
Rodriguez joins Yankees teammates Jeter and Johnny Damon on the preliminary U.S. roster -- and they could fill the top three spots in the batting order.
With A-Rod now on board, Team USA's lineup might look like this:
Sammy Sosa also is on the Dominican roster but hasn't said whether he intends to play.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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World Baseball Classic
WHAT: A 16-team international tournament divided into four pools of four teams each
WHEN: March 3-20, 2006
WHERE: U.S., Puerto Rico, Japan
World Baseball Classic at a glance
|Dominican Republic||South Africa|
• Jan. 23: Bonds says he won't play
• Jan. 20: Cuba allowed in
• Jan. 18: Provisional rosters are announced
• Jan. 17: A-Rod plans to play for U.S.
• Jan. 16: U.S. names provisional roster
• Jan. 14: Canada names 23 to roster
• Jan. 14: Nomar to play for Mexico
• Jan. 11: Lasorda expects Cuba to play
• Jan. 10: Marlins' Cabrera to play for Venezuela
• Jan. 10: Smoltz not likely to pitch for U.S.
• Jan. 9: Italian team to train with Tigers
• Jan. 6: Report: Iguchi, Buehrle to skip WBC
• Jan. 6: IBAF threat: No Cuba, no Classic
• Jan. 4: Report: A-Rod to play for U.S.
• Dec. 28: Venezuela wants Cuba in Classic
• Dec. 27: Matsui won't play for Japan in March
• Dec. 23: Cuba offers to donate Classic money
• Dec. 22: MLB denies Cuban exiles
• Dec. 22: Astros assistant to manage Italy
• Dec. 15: A-Rod will sit out Classic
• Dec. 14: Treasury: Cuba can't send players
• Dec. 14: Matsui promises to decide soon
• Dec. 13: A-Rod leaning toward Dominican team
• Dec. 13: Griffey ready to play
• Dec. 11: Yankees deny Posada
• Dec. 3: Pedro, Tejada hope to play
• Dec. 3: Garcia pitching for Venezuela
• Dec. 2: Report: Castro says Cuba will play
• Nov. 30: Bonds to play for U.S.
• Nov. 28: Whitt to manage Canada
• Nov. 22: U.S., Canada to play exhibitions
• Nov. 14: Arizona to host WBC games
• Nov. 14: Livan Hernandez can play for PR
• Nov. 12: Dontrelle to hurl for U.S.
• Nov. 10: Delgado suiting up for PR
• Sept. 28: San Diego hosting WBC
• Sept. 16: Japan agrees to participate
• July 14: A-Rod to play for DR
• July 13: No WBC for Sheffield
• July 11: WBC groups unveiled