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Mariners tell Beltre he cant play in WBC


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PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Mariners told Adrian Beltre he can't play for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic because he hasn't fully recovered from surgery last fall.

The Gold Glove third baseman said Saturday morning that he had decided he was healthy enough to leave Sunday and join the Dominican Republic team to train for its opening game in the tournament on March 7.

The Mariners disagreed, saying he isn't 100 percent following surgeries in September to repair a ligament in his left thumb and to remove bone spurs from his left, non-throwing shoulder.

"Yes, we took the decision (away)," Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik said. "We need this player, and we need this player badly, to be competitive this year.

"I feel bad about it. I know how badly he wanted to play. As I said all along, I would support him -- as long as he was healthy. ... If he's not right at 100 percent, then we as an organization couldn't afford to have a setback."

Beltre was on the final WBC roster, but he can be replaced before his nation's opener in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

"It's disappointing," Beltre said, one day after he went 2-for-3 with three RBI as a designated hitter in his first spring game.

He was obviously unhappy, but said he understood the Mariners' decision.

"I gave up my apartment because I was going to go," he said, smiling. "Yes, now I have no place to live. I'm homeless."

Zduriencik said Beltre could stay at his place during camp.

All kidding aside, this is a sensitive issue for the team and for Beltre, who can become a free agent after his $64 million, five-year contract ends this fall.

When asked two weeks ago if this may be his last spring training with the Mariners, especially given their rebuilding mode following a 101-loss season, Beltre said: "I don't know."

Zduriencik said he hopes Beltre separates that issue from this one.

"I hope this is just something he looks at and sees this had to be the decision, for the right reason," the GM said.

Beltre wished Zduriencik would have told him in a meeting they had last week that the team would not let him play. Beltre and manager Don Wakamatsu had said the result of that meeting was the Mariners did not want him to play in the tournament, but that the team was leaving the decision up to Beltre.

"He wanted to play so badly and I wanted to do everything I could to allow him to play -- if the circumstances could have been such," Zduriencik said. "The reason this took a little time was I was sympathetic to his heart. I didn't want to say no to the guy."

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