02/21/06 12:12 PM EST
Ramirez to wait and see about Classic
Cubs third baseman more concerned about being healthy
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Ramirez, limited to 123 games last season because of leg injuries, said he'll make his decision after a few days of workouts. The Cubs held their first full-squad workout on Tuesday at Fitch Park.
"I want to play [in the WBC]," Ramirez said, "but we have to take care of my health first. I'll check with the doctors and we're going to do some tests. It's not decided whether I'm going or not.
"[The WBC] is a real big deal down there [in the Dominican Republic], but I don't want to risk my season if I'm not good enough to play."
Cubs manager Dusty Baker said he talked to Ramirez on Tuesday.
"With his health conditions of the past, we sort of considered that it might be better if he doesn't play," Baker said. "It's not necessarily final at this point but he's leaning toward that."
Ramirez missed the last month of the season because of a strained left quad, but still finished with 31 home runs and 92 RBIs. The Dominican team already has named Adrian Beltre as its starting third baseman. Asked if he might be the designated hitter, Ramirez said the Dominicans already have a good one in Boston's David Ortiz.
The Dominican team will open WBC play on March 7 in Orlando, Fla., against Team Venezuela.
"I got hurt in '04 and '05 and it's about time for me to play the whole season for the Cubs," Ramirez said. "I'm fine and I feel good working out but game time is different. That's what we want to work out."
Cubs athletic trainer Mark O'Neal and strength and conditioning coach Tim Buss both visited Ramirez in the Dominican Republic to check on his rehab this winter. Ramirez passed all of their tests.
"This guy is in great shape -- this is the best shape I've seen him in," Baker said of his third baseman. "Our trainers went down and checked on him. They saw him this winter. He's doing pretty good. He hasn't played baseball for awhile so we still have to break him in slowly."
When will the Cubs third baseman make his decision?
"I'd say in about two or three days," Ramirez said. "We need some time to run the bases and hit the ball and all of that.
"I think I'm going to be fine," he said. "We're not used to being ready to play on March 7. That's why I have to be real concerned."
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.