ARLINGTON, Texas – Texas Rangers third baseman Adrian Beltre hopes to be able to play for the Dominican Republic in this year’s World Baseball Classic.
Beltre played in the WBC in 2006 but didn’t play in 2009 because of injury.
Beltre, who was slowed at the end of last season by an abdominal injury, said he felt fine Friday and that as long as there are no issues between now and then, he’ll represent his home country.
“It’s too early yet because you go through spring training and an injury can hold you back a little bit,” said Beltre, who hit .300 in the 2006 WBC. “Of course if I don’t feel 100 percent healthy to be in the WBC I’m not going to force it. I’m not going to jeopardize what I’m trying to do here with this team to play the WBC. If everything goes well and I’m healthy I think I’m going to play.”
Beltre said he’s already talked with general manager Jon Daniels about playing in the WBC.
“You play for your country,” said Beltre, who had four home runs and nine RBIs in six WBC games in 2006. “The fans like it. I’d be more than happy to represent my country and try to win.”
Beltre will likely have a Rangers’ teammate on the Dominican WBC team too in outfielder Nelson Cruz.
Cruz also said Friday that he planned to play in the WBC. He said he would alter his training program some to be ready to play nine-inning games during spring training. Cruz played in the 2009 WBC as well, hitting .273 in three games.
While the WBC is a diversion for Beltre, his No. 1 focus is on the Rangers. He’s lost three of the bats around him in the lineup in Josh Hamilton, Mike Napoli Michael Young but is still confident the Rangers can compete in the American League West.
“There’s no doubt we lost big bats,” Beltre said. “But I think we have a good enough team to compete and hopefully win the West. It’s not easy to replace a bat like Hamilton but we still have some bats in the lineup that can do the job.”
Beltre, who was honored as the club’s most valuable player from 2012 Friday night, doesn’t think he has any more pressure on him to produce in the revamped lineup.
“I still have to go out there and do my job,” said Beltre, who will hit fourth again this season. “I cannot try and do all the other player’s jobs.”