Third baseman Alex Rodriguez of the NEW YORK YANKEES changes teams for the upcoming World Baseball Classic (WBC) next March. After being on the roster for Team USA in 2006 he announced on Saturday at a charity golf event in Punta Cuna, Dominican Republic, to play for the Dominican team in 2009.
The three-time winner of the MVP Award in the American League said to the Associated Press, “I am 100 percent sure that I will play for the Dominican Republic team. This time, there will be no doubts, and it is a dream of my mom’s that I intend to fulfill. I think we have a good team and the possibility of winning because we have lots of quality material for the Classic.”
Rodriguez was born in New York City in 1975, as son of Dominican parents. He lived in the Dominican Republic for three years, beginning in 1979 before his family moved to Miami, where he went to high school. In 1993 he was drafted by the SEATTLE MARINERS as the number one pick and made his big league debut as a shortstop in 1994.
In 2001 Rodriguez signed a record 250-million-dollar-contract with the TEXAS RANGERS. Three years later he was traded to the Bronx Bombers, switching to third base. Last winter he opted out of his old contract and signed a new ten-year deal with NEW YORK for 275 million dollars.
The 33-year-old twelve-time all star is batting .306 (OBP .389/SLG .578) during his 15-year career with 2404 hits and 553 homeruns. He has scored at least 100 runs in 13 seasons and drove in over 100 in twelve. Three years ago Rodriguez went back and forth for which team he would play and even considered to reject an invitation to the tournament. However the organizers put pressure on him to participate and he was added to the provisional roster of Team USA hours before the submission deadline.
The missing Rodriguez shouldn’t be much of a factor for Team USA, as they now have room in the lineup for fellow all-star third basemen David Wright of the NEW YORK METS and Evan Longoria of the TAMPA BAY RAYS.
The Dominican Republic finished in third place at the 2006 WBC behind Japan and Cuba. They are in Pool D with the Netherlands, Puerto Rico and Panama, playing in San Juan’s Hiram Bithorn Stadium. They are open the tournament against the Dutch National Team with new head coach Rod Delmonico.