<
>

Guerrero will not join Dominicans in second round

ORLANDO -- A few hours after announcing plans to accomodate outfielder Vladimir Guerrero in its lineup, the Dominican Republic apparently will have to do without the services of the Los Angeles Angels star.

"I've said from the beginning that I would not play and I haven't changed my original plan," Guerrero told ESPN Deportes reporter José Mota by telephone from the Angels training camp in Arizona.

A Dominican team official had told ESPNdeportes.com that Guerrero was to travel from Arizona to Florida on Thursday night and would be ready to join the team Friday when it faces Australia in the last game of round 1 of the World Baseball Classic.

"We've lost hope on Guerrero" joining the team, said Fernando Ravelo, travel coordinator of the Dominican delegation. "Up until a few hours ago, we were hoping Vladimir would join the team because that is what we understood from conversations with those close to Vladimir."

Guerrero, the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2004, obtained a mourning permit from Major League Baseball after the death of three cousins during a car accident; he had until the end of the second round -- March 12-15 in Puerto Rico -- to rejoin his country's team.

The Dominican Republic's general manager, Stan Javier, was not available to comment. Manager Manny Acta said that having Guerrero would have been an extra bonus, but he still was confident that his team would play good baseball in the tournament.

With 24 hits and 7 homers in two games in Group D, Dominican Republic was the first team to advance to the second round of the WBC.

"We have a great team and we've demonstrated that in our two games here in Orlando," said Acta. "We have no fear."

Enrique Rojas is a reporter and columnist for ESPNdeportes.com and ESPN.com.