Rangers 3B Beltre says he'll play WBC for Dominican Republic

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SURPRISE, Ariz. (AP) — Third baseman Adrian Beltre has passed the test of playing some spring training games for the Texas Rangers and is ready to join the Dominican Republic for World Baseball Classic.

Beltre played his third game in four days Monday for the Rangers after missing the first week of exhibition games because of a strained left calf, an injury sustained working out at home before reporting to camp.

"I'm not crazy. It's the game of baseball I want to play. Obviously if I'm good enough to play out here, I'm good enough to play," Beltre said. "I would like to represent my country. This is going to be my last WBC that I'm part of."

The 37-year-old Gold Glove third baseman planned to stay in Arizona with the Rangers as long as he could to get treatment and more at-bats before joining the defending champion Dominicans in Miami for their opener Thursday in Miami. Beltre planned to be in Rangers camp Tuesday and did not rule out playing again then.

"It might not be 100 percent, but I don't remember the last time I was 100 percent," Beltre said. "If I don't go to the classic, it doesn't mean I'm not going to get hurt here. I don't want to get hurt anytime, but it can happen here too."

Beltre, whose only WBC appearance was in 2006, said Rangers officials have supported him throughout the process, and their only message was to be cautious and smart in his decision.

Manager Jeff Banister said Beltre has "built up enough equity over time" to be trusted because of what he has done and how he has handled situations throughout his career.

"He feels like he's in a good place," Banister said.

Beltre will go into his 20th major league season 58 hits shy of 3,000. He hit .300 with 32 homers, 31 doubles and 104 RBIs last season, when he won his fifth Gold Glove.

Before that, he looks forward to representing his home country one more time.

"I just enjoy the whole experience, to be out there pulling each other for the country and knowing that our fans are behind us all the way," Beltre said. "It's crazy how you can talk to your family over there and knowing that everybody, everybody in that country, is watching these games."

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