Arenado to play for US in 2017 Classic

Arenado to play for US in 2017 Classic

DENVER -- Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado announced Sunday that he will play for Team USA in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Arenado had a choice, since his mother is from Puerto Rico.

"It was a really tough decision; I was stressing out about it," Arenado said. "Obviously, Puerto Rico means a lot to me because of my mom. But the U.S. is the country I was born in, and I've never had a chance to represent Team USA and represent the country.

"I want to play for them and I want to go far with them. It's going to be a lot of fun."

Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer and Rays pitcher Chris Archer have committed to the event, which takes place during Spring Training, and Arenado said, "I want to play defense behind those pitchers -- it's something I want to do."

This year, Arenado earned the National League's Rawlings Gold Glove Award, becoming the first third baseman in history to win it each of his first four seasons, as well as the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award and the Fielding Bible Award as the best Major Leaguer at his position.

Arenado joins Team USA

Arenado also received his second straight Louisville Slugger Silver Slugger Award, after tying for the NL lead in homers with 41 and leading the league with 133 RBIs.

The idea of representing the country came up once before.

"I was asked, but it didn't work out," Arenado said. "But now I want to represent those colors and represent the country I was born in."

Late in the regular season, Arenado said he was going to play in the Classic, although which team he'd represent would be a difficult decision. But he has adjusted his offseason to be ready for the intensity of the international tournament.

"I'll start hitting a little bit earlier than normal, but other than that, I'll stick to my routine," Arenado said. "When I play Spring Training games in March, I give those everything I have. I don't take it easy or pick some games where I don't try. But the adrenaline rush I'm going to have is going to be more than a Spring Training game, so I've got to get ready for that."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.