Alex Rodriguez is switching sides.

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

Rodriguez made the announcement over the weekend 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 U.S. 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' 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 the inaugural classic.

"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.


* Free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal turned down a 4-year contract offer from Oakland in the neighborhood of $35 million to 40 million, according to Fox Sports. The A's indicated that they would move on, ending a courtship that brought Furcal to the East Bay for a visit and positioned the A's as the front-runner to land him.

Furcal's agent, Paul Kinzer, was quoted as saying he hopes to talk again with the A's, and other teams, at the winter meetings, which begin today in Las Vegas and run through Thursday.

* The Pittsburgh Pirates have removed righthander Jason Davis and catcher Raul Chavez from their 40-man roster in advance of the winter meetings, where they are expected to add at least one player in Thursday's draft. Both players would have been eligible for salary arbitration if they had been tendered a major league contract offer. Davis, 28, was 2-4 with a 5.29 ERA in 14 games with Pittsburgh last season. Chavez, 35, was the Pirates' backup catcher much of the season, hitting .259 with 10 RBIs in 42 games.

* New Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu has finished his coaching staff for the 2009 season, hiring Alan Cockrell as hitting coach. Cockrell spent the last two seasons as hitting coach for the Colorado Rockies. *