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Focused on Astros, Martinez backs out of Classic

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KISSIMMEE, Fla. -- Astros outfielder Fernando Martinez arrived in camp Tuesday morning and said he will not participate in the World Baseball Classic. Martinez was going to play for Spain, though he was born in the Dominican Republic.

"I'm going to stay here and prepare for the season," he said.

Martinez, claimed off waivers from the Mets a year ago, hit .237 with six homers and 14 RBIs in 118 at-bats last year for Houston, playing in a career-high 41 games. Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said earlier this year Martinez would hurt his chances of making the club by playing in the Classic, and Martinez heard the message.

"I just thought about and I figured it would be a lost couple of weeks, and I want to make the team here," said Martinez, who's battling for a spot in camp with Rick Ankiel, Brandon Barnes, Trevor Crowe and Jimmy Paredes, among others.

"It definitely shows a commitment to this team and this organization, but I'm not one of those who would try to discourage someone from playing for their country," said manager Bo Porter. "I think it's an honor to play for country. Any player picked by their country to play in the World Baseball Classic, they'll have our full support."

Astros pitcher Chia-Jen Lo was originally scheduled to participate in the Classic, as well, but had a change of heart. Pitchers Xavier Cedeno (Puerto Rico) and Rhiner Cruz (Spain) are still scheduled to participate, along with Minor League right-hander Murilo Gouvea (Brazil) and outfielder Che-Hsuan Lin (Chinese Taipei).

Teams have until Feb. 20 to file their formal rosters.

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