MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Papi loyal to DR, but Classic swan song unlikely

Papi loyal to DR, but Classic swan song unlikely

NEW YORK -- David Ortiz entered Tuesday night's Red Sox game against the Yankees with six regular-season games remaining in his career, approaching another Boston postseason run. Ortiz said he will go as far as his 40-year-old body will take him.

To that end, Ortiz said that although he'd love to play again for his native Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic in March, such a scenario is unlikely.

Though Ortiz left the door to join the defending Classic champions slightly open, he said he's on his last legs.

"I would love to represent my country," Ortiz said, "but I'm in a situation where I've got to fight every day to get ready for a game. My body is so happy that this is over. My body is counting the days. It's hard to play baseball when you're 40. I'm not going to lie to you, especially when you're looking around and everyone is 20.

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"But [the Dominicans] have a lot of good, young players. I know they're going to do really well. If I can do anything on the other side for the Dominican ballclub at the time, I'll probably do something about it, but I don't think I'm going to be able to play."

Ortiz wasn't a member of the Dominican team that swept through the 2013 Classic with a 7-0 record, defeating Puerto Rico for the championship at AT&T Park in San Francisco. But he was a member of the squad in 2006 and '09.

Japan won the first two Classic titles.

Ortiz went into his last road series preparing to cap a season for any age, batting .321 with a .406 on-base percentage while leading the Majors in slugging percentage (.632), OPS (1.039) and doubles (48). Oh, yeah, he also has 37 homers and 124 RBIs.

Ortiz has given the Yanks fits this season, hitting six homers, driving in 13 runs and hitting .315, leading New York manager Joe Girardi to wonder why he's retiring.

Girardi on Ortiz

"It's incredible," said Girardi. "You often wonder why he's retiring. I know a lot of athletes like to go out on top. Gosh, the year he's having, I would really have to think about coming back. But I'm going to encourage him to retire."

And that's why the World Baseball Classic could be such a perfect venue for a short reprise.

In the just-finished Brooklyn Qualifier, wrapped up at Brooklyn's MCU Park on Sunday, Israel secured its first berth in next year's tournament of 16, thanks to pitchers Jason Marquis and Craig Breslow and first baseman Ike Davis.

Marquis, 38, hadn't pitched in 15 months. Breslow last came out of Miami's bullpen in May, and Davis was released after an eight-game run with the Yankees in June.

The Dominican squad is slated to participate in Pool C play next March 9-12 at Marlins Park in Miami, along with Team USA, Canada and Colombia. The second round for the two advancing clubs will be hosted by San Diego's Petco Park in advance of the championship round at Dodger Stadium.

It's not a lot of travel, and the schedule for any team won't exceed seven games. Perfect for a guy like Ortiz, right?

"What people don't understand is that if you want to be successful in the Baseball Classic and do what we did in the last one, you've got to be playing," Ortiz said. "You can't just come out of the box and ask, 'Can I play just because I have a big name?' It doesn't work that way.

"I have been part of the Baseball Classic before, and I haven't done that well. When we put in those little guys, who have been playing winter ball, they're good to go because that's what baseball is all about."

Ortiz's bottom line?

"If I have 15 months to recover, I might come back -- you never know," Ortiz said. "But I don't think three months is going to be enough."

Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.