Garciaparra latest big-leaguer to opt out of Classic

Updated: February 3, 2006, 9:15 PM ET
Associated Press

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.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press