Robinson Cano Still Plans to Play for Dominican Republic in WBC

Phil Watson@FurtherReviewCorrespondent INovember 23, 2012

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO - MARCH 10: Robinson Cano #24 of The Dominican Republic bats against The Netherlands during the 2009 World Baseball Classic Pool D match on March 10, 2009 at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano became a U.S. citizen earlier this month and the New York Daily News reported Thursday that he plans to don the red, white and blue next spring during the World Baseball Classic.

The red, white and blue of the Dominican Republic, that is.

Cano told the Daily News:

“I still have to play for the Dominican, even if I didn’t want to. If I played for the U.S., I don’t think they would ever let me come home. You saw what happened with Alex (Rodriguez); a lot of people got upset in the Dominican when he played for the U.S.” 

Cano’s decision may annoy some folks in the U.S., but don’t mistake loyalty to the Dominican Republic as a rejection of his adopted home country.

According to the Daily News, Cano began preparing to take the citizenship test in spring training. He went to school in the Newark, N.J., area for three years before returning to the Dominican while he was in high school.

His mother became a citizen in 2011, prompting Cano’s decision to follow suit.

“I spend more time in New York than the Dominican,” Cano told the Daily News. “I play here, I live here, so why not become a citizen?”

Cano is entering the final year of his contract in 2013 with no discussions on the horizon about an extension. Cano is not expected to offer the Yankees any sort of a hometown discount, according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post, particularly not after hiring Scott Boras to represent him.

Boras has already said that he thinks the Yankees are making a mistake with their plan to trim payroll to less than the $189 million luxury-tax threshold in 2014.

“Are you going to put your brand at risk, when your brand is having more superstars than anyone else?” Boras told FOXSports.com earlier this month. “Superstars are good for business. Superstars make money for franchises and their television networks.”

Sherman said there are “strong indications” that serious talks between Boras and the Yankees about Cano won’t happen until Cano’s contract expires next fall. As that is Boras’ usual strategy when negotiating for his premier clients on the verge of free agency, that statement certainly makes sense.

Back to the World Baseball Classic. The Dominican Republic will be playing in Pool C at San Juan, Puerto Rico, from March 7-10 along with Venezuela, Puerto Rico and one of the four nations that survived qualifying (Spain, Canada, Brazil and Chinese Taipei). The championship round is scheduled for March 17-19 at AT&T Park in San Francisco.