Manny Machado to play for Dominican Republic at WBC

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Manny Machado will play for the Dominican Republic in the fourth edition of the World Baseball Classic, scheduled to be held in March 2017.

Machado, who was born in Miami, is the son of Dominican parents Manuel and Rosa Machado, and, according to the WBC rules, can play for the United States or the Dominican Republic. But for the stellar third baseman of the Baltimore Orioles, the decision was very easy.

"My blood is Dominican and I want to represent my country. I will wear the red and blue to represent DR," Machado told ESPNDeportes.com.

"[I'll play with] my country, which is my family, where it all started. I am Dominican. I am a red-blooded Dominican, I know I haven't traveled much there [to the Dominican Republic], but my blood is Latin. The Dominicans are my family," he added.

Machado said he spoke with DR manager Tony Pena, but not with general manager Moises Alou, about his plans to play with the current WBC champion at either third base or shortstop. But for Machado, seeing his family happy is the main factor in his decision to play with the Dominican Republic.

"That will be the best, so that's why I want to do it. For my grandfather [Juan], who is already with God and always wanted me to play with the Dominican Republic. Now I want to wear that uniform for my mom and my family to see me, that will be a honor," Machado said.

"I would like to play at shortstop, that's my position, but also at third base. I'll let Pena to make the lineup, I only want to play, to be with the team and see if we can win again," Machado said.

At 23 years old, Machado is already one of the best players in baseball. In three full seasons he is a two-time All-Star and has won two Gold Gloves. Last season he finished fourth in the AL MVP voting. Through his first 19 games this season, he's hitting .342 with 14 extra-base hits (eight doubles and six home runs) with 16 runs scored and 11 RBIs.

Last week, Machado was mentioned in a report as part of a possible U.S. roster for the next WBC.

"When my family saw that lineup, that put me with the United States, they called me. They know that I won't play with them (USA). They want me to do it with the Dominican uniform. We are all happy because I will be with the DR and everybody is waiting for that day," the ballplayer said.

"It will be our privilege to see Manny with the Dominican uniform," Manny Machado Sr. said from his home in Miami. "The World Baseball Classic is a very important event for baseball, but for us Dominicans, is bigger than a sports tournament. For us, the classic is a matter of national pride."