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A-Rod: League booted WBC call

Alex Rodriguez is unhappy with organizers of the World Baseball Classic for the way they handled his decision to play for the United States instead of the Dominican Republic.

The Yankees third baseman took issue with reports that he vacillated between playing for the Americans and the Dominicans.

"Just to make it clear, I only spoke once and then I spoke again three months later," Rodriguez said Monday after reporting to spring training. "All the garbage in between was Major League Baseball. I didn't go back and forth. I said once, "I wasn't playing,' and then at the end I said, "So okay, I am playing."

Rodriguez wouldn't identify any officials he spoke with.

"I told him I was disappointed with all the stuff going back and forth, the leaking of information," he said.

MATSUI CATCHES FLAK: Hideki Matsui is back in the eye of another World Baseball Classic storm.

His decision to blow off the WBC has played poorly, in Japan and in Major League Baseball's inner sanctum.

"Many people are saying, " Ichiro (Suzuki) is a good guy, and Matsui is a bad guy,' " said Gaku Tashiro, who covers major-league baseball for Sankei Sports. "They're saying, "He is not a patriot.' "

Matsui, whose presence would have raised the value of the WBC's Asia bracket, worked out at the Yankees' minor-league complex. He seemed typically unfazed by this controversy.

"If my popularity goes down, then it goes down," he said through an interpreter. "It's beyond my control."

Confident Rollins

prepared for hunt

CLEARWATER - Jimmy Rollins doesn't need pep talks.

Already known for having a swagger, the Philadelphia shortstop came to spring training full of confidence.

"When the pressure is on, I definitely showed up to play," Rollins said, one day before the team's first full-squad workout. "I was able to prove it last year."

He hit .385 during his season-ending 36-game hitting streak, and looks to break Joe DiMaggio's major-league record of 56.

There is a catch, though, because DiMaggio did it in the same season. The major-league marks for longest hitting streak in one season and longest hitting streak spanning two seasons are separate records.

DiMaggio holds both marks with his 56-game streak in 1941, but there is a difference in the NL records: Pete Rose(1978) and Willie Keeler (1897) share the NL mark at 44 games. However, Keeler got a hit in his final game of 1896, so his run of 45 games overall is the first record Rollins can chase.

"I pretty much started getting ready for it mentally about three weeks ago," Rollins said.

- TIMES WIRES

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