A-Rod to play for DR at WBC

PUNTA CANA, Dominican Republic -- Alex Rodriguez is switching sides.

The New York Yankees star will play for the Dominican Republic in the 2009 World Baseball Classic, he said Saturday.

Rodriguez made the announcement while playing at a charity golf tournament hosted by friend David Ortiz of the Boston Red Sox.

"I am 100 percent sure that I will play for the Dominican Republic team," he said. "This time, there will be no doubts and it is a dream of my mom's that I intend to fulfill."

Rodriguez played for the United States in the 2006 inaugural Classic and was largely criticized by fans in the Dominican Republic and across Latin America. He at first had announced he would play for the Dominican Republic, then said he would not play and ultimately joined the U.S. team.

Rodriguez's parents are from the Dominican Republic, and although he was born in the U.S., he is allowed to choose for which country he will play.

"It will be a very special day for me and my family to see me play again with a Dominican uniform," he said.

The Dominicans placed third behind Japan and Cuba in 2006.

"I think we have a good team and the possibility of winning because we have lots of quality material for the Classic," he said.

Rodriguez played with the Leones del Escogido during the Dominican Republic's 1994-95 winter season, after having 54 at-bats with the Seattle Mariners.