12/05/08 12:11 AM EST
Papi: A-Rod wants to play for D.R.
Yankees star may switch after playing for USA in 2006 Classic
By Bryan Hoch / MLB.com
Red Sox slugger David Ortiz, a friend of A-Rod's, told the Web site that Rodriguez is expected to announce his decision this weekend. The Yankees third baseman will be a guest at Ortiz's charity golf tournament in Punta Cana on Saturday.
"He wants to play for the Dominican team," Ortiz said in a telephone interview Thursday. "We'll talk about it now after he gets here, and he'll probably announce it here."
Rodriguez was a member of the star-studded 2006 United States roster, which did not advance to the semifinals in the inaugural Classic tournament.
But even deciding a place on the roster was no simple task for Rodriguez, who claims dual citizenship. The son of Dominican parents, Rodriguez was born in New York in 1975, but resided in the Dominican Republic for a three-year period beginning in 1979.
Originally stating in interviews that he was "leaning" toward playing for the Dominican Republic in the first Classic, Rodriguez found that he was unable to come to a decision that would satisfy supporters on both sides. In December 2005, Rodriguez stated that he would not play for either team.
"When faced with the decision to choose between my country, the United States of America, and my Dominican heritage, I decided I will not dishonor either," Rodriguez said then.
But following lobbying on the part of Major League Baseball and union officials, Rodriguez changed his stance in January 2006. His name was added to the U.S. provisional roster hours before the official deadline for submission.
"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 then in a statement published on his Web site, arod.com.
Rodriguez has not officially commented on Ortiz's suggestion. A-Rod told MLB.com late in the 2008 season that he enjoyed participating in the first Classic and would be interested in doing so again in 2009, but did not elaborate on his plans.
Ortiz said in the report that Rodriguez has been considering playing for the Dominican Republic for some time, stating that the issue was discussed during the July All-Star Game festivities in New York.
Rodriguez moved from Santo Domingo back to the United States at age 8, moving with his family to Miami. He remained there, becoming a standout athlete at Westminster Christian High School and the No. 1 Draft selection of the Mariners in 1993.
A switch for Rodriguez to represent the Dominican Republic would be completely within the rules, which permit a player to play for a country in which he, his parents, or grandparents were citizens. In one notable 2006 example, Mike Piazza opted to play for Italy, the country of his grandparents' birth.
The 2009 Classic will involve 16 countries and is scheduled to begin on March 5 with first-round action in Tokyo, Mexico City, Toronto and San Juan. The Dominican Republic finished fourth in the 2006 Classic, and it hopes for a stronger finish in 2009 behind manager Felipe Alou.
Adding Rodriguez to the Dominican lineup could bump third basemen Adrian Beltre, who is recovering from thumb and shoulder injuries, and Pedro Feliz.
Bryan Hoch is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.