A-Rod not happy with MLB, WBC organizers

Updated: February 21, 2006, 11:57 AM ET
Associated Press

TAMPA, Fla. -- Alex Rodriguez is unhappy with organizers of the World Baseball Classic for the way they handled his decision to play for the United States instead of the Dominican Republic.

The New York Yankees third baseman took issue with reports that he vacillated between playing for the Americans and the Dominicans.

"Just to make it clear, I only spoke once and then I spoke again three months later," Rodriguez said Monday after reporting to spring training. "All the garbage in between was Major League Baseball. I didn't go back and forth. I said once I wasn't playing, and then at the end I said, 'So OK, I am playing.'"

Rodriguez wouldn't identify any officials he spoke with, opting to say only "central baseball."

"I told him I was disappointed with all the stuff going back and forth, the leaking of information," Rodriguez said, "especially with me not being involved in any way, shape or form."

Rodriguez downplayed comments made by Chicago White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, who criticized A-Rod's WBC decision.

"I already heard what he had to say, he apologized," Rodriguez said. "The apology has been accepted. We've move on from there. Ozzie and I have always been friendly. It's not really that big of a deal."

Last spring, Rodriguez was criticized by several members of the Boston Red Sox.

"That will never end. Maybe when I retire it will stop," Rodriguez said. "I use it as a motivation."

The AL MVP told Yankees general manager Brian Cashman on Dec. 15 that he wouldn't play in the tournament but then said Jan. 18 he would be on the U.S. team. That followed a conference call with commissioner Bud Selig and players' association chief operating officer Gene Orza.

"The game of baseball has been my whole life," Rodriguez said. "It's given me everything I have. If I didn't think this was better for the game, the growth of the game, I wouldn't be playing. I felt that I owe this to the game. I've made the right decision. I'm very proud to be playing for the USA team. I plan to enjoy it."

Rodriguez is eligible to play for both nations because he was raised in the United States and his parents are Dominican.

"It was tough ... on me, to be honest with you," Rodriguez said. "I can remember in December sitting in my house, and my mom and my wife having a debate for two hours about it.

"Most people are not going to understand. They're going to ridicule me and make fun of it. Unless you understand my background and where I come from and the passion that my family and my heritage holds, I don't expect anyone to understand," he said.

Rodriguez was at Legends Field one day before the reporting day for position players. He worked out with fellow WBC participants Derek Jeter and Bernie Williams.

Williams is set to play for Puerto Rico in the WBC. The former starting center fielder could play all three outfield spots and DH on that squad, much like he could do during the regular season.

"It will probably be a more complicated role than an everyday player," Williams said.

Williams considered retirement before signing a one-year contract in December. He hasn't ruled out playing past this season.

"It was more whether or not I was going to retire or not as opposed to playing for another team," Williams said. "I didn't want to have any doubts. I really wanted to give myself a chance to retire as a Yankee."

Left-fielder Hideki Matsui took batting practice for the first time at the minor-league complex. Matsui decided not to play for Japan.

"An event like the baseball classic is very important for baseball," Matsui said through an interpreter. "This time of year is a very important time to prepare for the season. It was a very difficult decision for me, but I have no regrets."

Matsui is not sure what the long-term impact of his decision will be on his fans in Japan.

"If popularity goes down, then it goes down," Matsui said. "It can't be helped. It's beyond my control."


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press

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