A-Rod on Classic: 'I felt I needed to be there'

NEW YORK -- Alex Rodriguez changed his mind and decided to play in the World Baseball Classic for the United States because of his status in the sport, The New York Times reported

"At the end of the day, I realized how important it was for me to play because of the position that I have in the game," the New York Yankees third baseman told the newspaper. "When I looked at that, I felt I needed to be there."

After initially saying he would play for the Dominican Republic,
Rodriguez changed his mind last month and said he wouldn't play in
the World Baseball Classic. On Tuesday night, he decided he would
participate in the 16-team tournament, but as a member of the U.S.

"I know what kind of a crazy competitor I am," Rodriguez told the Times. "If I'm in Lakeland [Fla., the Yankees' spring training home] in March and my country is playing Japan in the semifinals in Arizona, I know I'd want to be there. I'm the best guy available to help the team."

Rodriguez's decision to play with the U.S. team miffed Stan
Javier, the general manager for the Dominican team.

"It was pretty clear that he was going to play for the
Dominican team," Javier told the newspaper. "He said he would
announce it. Two days later, he said he wasn't playing at all."

Rodriguez said it was a tough decision, but one he is now
comfortable with.

"No matter what I did, I was going to tick somebody off."

The final 30-man rosters for the World Baseball Classic will be chosen from each team's 60-player pools shortly before the start of the event, scheduled for March 3-20.