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Dominicans want A-Rod to play -- for them or U.S.

MIAMI -- The Dominican Republic would prefer to have third baseman Alex Rodriguez playing for the United States rather than him not participating in the first edition of the World Baseball Classic, as he announced Friday.

On Friday, Rodríguez told the New York Post that he has decided not to play in the World Classic's first edition to avoid disgracing either the United States, where he was born, or the Dominican Republic, where his parents come from.

"It would be a shame to keep the best player in baseball today from participating in the World Baseball Classic for such reasons," Hector Pereyra, president of the Dominican Baseball Federation, told ESPNdeportes.com in Santo Domingo.

"For us, not being able to count on Rodriguez would be devastating, but we'd rather see him play with the United States if the option is not having him play at all," added Pereyra.

Because Rodriguez was born in the United States and his parents are Dominican, the Yankees' third baseman is eligible to represent either country in the tournament, which will include 16 countries and the best players in Major League Baseball.

Earlier this week, Rodriguez said he was leaning toward playing for the Dominican Republic. But on Thursday he reconsidered his position and excluded himself from the tournament.

By Jan. 17, each participating country must present a list of 60 pre-selected players. The list will be cut to 30 players by the time the tournament begins.

"It's a very personal decision for Alex, and we hope he'll reconsider his choice. We want him to play for the Dominican Republic, but if that can't be the case, we'd prefer to see him playing for the United States," said Pereyra.

On the other hand, Pereyra said the Dominican Republic would support any move that Latin American countries might start, to make the Treasury Department of the United States reconsider its decision of denying Cuba the authorization to play in the World Baseball Classic.

"We don't give our opinion on political matters, but in the subject of sports, Cuba is a very important country," said Pereyra. "The Dominicans have great expectations about playing against Cuba in the World Baseball Classic, and we are going to do everything that's in our power to make that happen"

The World Baseball Classic, which will take place in the United States, Japan and Puerto Rico March 3-20, is organized by Major League Baseball, the Players Union and the International Baseball Federation.