Dominican team wanted him to play 1B

KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Miguel Tejada will not play for the Dominican Republic in next month's World Baseball Classic.

Tejada and Houston Astros manager Cecil Cooper said the Dominican team's request that the shortstop play first base during the tournament was a major factor in the decision.

"They've never seen me play first base," Tejada said. "I prefer to be sitting the bench and wait for a chance to play short or another position, but not first base."

Tejada hates to let his Dominican fans down by skipping the WBC, but knows it's is the best decision for him.

"It's really disappointing because I wanted to represent my country," Tejada said. "But if I don't get a chance to play it's not worth going."

Cooper was understanding.

"Here's a guy who has never done it before," he said. "It's tough to work out for three or four days with a team then go and jump in playing first base. It's not easy. Everybody thinks it's easy to go over there. It's a tough position. You're involved in every single play. You have all these different moves. It's a lot different than shortstop."

Earlier this month, Tejada became the first prominent major leaguer to be convicted of a crime related to the use of performance-enhancing drugs when he admitted lying to congressional investigators about whether he had knowledge of other players using steroids.

Tejada is facing prison time and deportation but is expected to avoid both. He is to be sentenced March 26.

Cooper is happy that he'll have Tejada with the team for all of spring training.

"He'll get a chance to do his regular routine for working on his defense," Cooper said. "And that's something he does every day with [coach Ed] Romero. He said he brought it from Oakland way back in the day and he's always used this routine. He felt like going there and not being able to do his stuff and not being able to play his position, he'd lose that."