A-Rod: 'I want to say it out loud: I am Dominican'

DETROIT -- Alex Rodriguez feels determined to help the Dominican Republic play a key role in baseball's first World Classic, which will take place in March.

That's why the Yankees third baseman has already decided which country he will represent in the most important international event in baseball's history.

"I am going to play for the Dominican Republic, and I am going to make the Dominicans feel proud," Rodriguez said during the All-Star Game.

"I want to say it out loud: I am Dominican," added Rodriguez.

Major League Baseball, the Players Union and the International Baseball Federation have already announced baseball's first World Classic on Monday, with 16 countries slated to participate.

Rodriguez is one of the many baseball players who has dual citizenship and has the choice of representing the country he prefers.

Rodriguez is son of Dominican parents, but was born in New York. Along with other Dominican players born in the U.S., Rodriguez could play for the United States if so chooses.

"I am Dominican, and that's the flag I will represent in the World Classic," said Rodriguez. "We will have a great team, and we will try to win the title so that all the Dominican people will feel proud of their ballplayers and of their own nationality," he said.

The Dominican Republic will share Pool D, which will play the first round in Florida, with Australia, Venezuela and Italy. The two best teams will advance to the quarterfinals.

The Yankees third baseman was one of the five Dominican players to occupy successive places in the batting order for the American League lineup at the All-Star Game. Rodriguez batted second, a place he has been comfortable with during his last two seasons with the Yankees.

David Ortiz, the designated hitter, was the third player in the batting order, leftfielder Manny Ramirez was the cleanup, shortstop and eventual MVP Miguel Tejada was fifth and outfielder Vladimir Guerrero was sixth.

"Our country is a baseball power. With players like Miguel Tejada, David Ortiz, Manny Ramirez and others, we are going to keep the Dominican flag at the top," concluded A-Rod.

Enrique Rojas covers baseball for ESPNdeportes.com and has written at various newspapers in the Dominican Republic as well as serving as the Associated Press stringer.