Garciaparra latest big-leaguer to opt out of Classic

LOS ANGELES -- Nomar Garciaparra decided not to play for
Mexico in the World Baseball Classic next month, pulling out of the
international tournament to concentrate on switching positions with
his new team.

The 32-year-old Garciaparra, who signed a free-agent contract
with the Los Angeles Dodgers in December, issued a statement
through the team on Friday.

"While I am honored to have been asked to participate, at this
point, I believe it is really important for me to concentrate on
the year ahead," he said. "Given all that I have been through
with my health the past couple of years, and now with changing both
teams and positions, I feel this is the time for me to focus on
doing my best for the Dodgers, my new teammates and the wonderful
fans in Los Angeles.

Garciaparra spent the last season and a half with the Chicago
Cubs, but missed almost all of last year with a groin injury.

Garciaparra, a shortstop most of his career, will play first
base for the Dodgers. He has said he'll report to the team's spring
training facility in Vero Beach, Fla., with pitchers and catchers
on Feb 15.

"I wish the Mexican National Team great success in the WBC and
I want them to know that I will be supporting them
enthusiastically," he said.