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Beltre driven by love of country

MLB.com @TracyRingolsby

For Adrian Beltre, the World Baseball Classic is more than a game. It's national pride.

And Beltre is finally going to get a chance to be a member of the defending champion team from his native Dominican Republic in this year's Classic. He was planning to play in one final Spring Training game with the Rangers on Monday, spend Tuesday working out under the guidance of club officials and then fly to Miami on Wednesday to join the Dominican Republic team for its first game in the tournament, against Canada on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.

For Adrian Beltre, the World Baseball Classic is more than a game. It's national pride.

And Beltre is finally going to get a chance to be a member of the defending champion team from his native Dominican Republic in this year's Classic. He was planning to play in one final Spring Training game with the Rangers on Monday, spend Tuesday working out under the guidance of club officials and then fly to Miami on Wednesday to join the Dominican Republic team for its first game in the tournament, against Canada on Thursday at 6 p.m. ET.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

"Obviously I want to play for my country," Beltre said. "I want to help [the Dominican] repeat what it did in [winning the championship] in 2013. The last two times I was injured and couldn't play."

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

How much Beltre will play remains to be decided. But he will be there, in uniform, in the dugout, a part of the activity. Beltre also knows it is important that once the Classic has concluded, he is healthy and ready to play for the Rangers in what will be his 20th and potentially his final season.

Beltre does, after all, turn 38 on April 7. And he does have one major void in a career that should see him easily reach the 58 hits necessary to become the 31st member of the 3,000-hit club -- a World Series championship.

Video: Beltre talks about nearing 3,000-hit milestone

"That's the thing that keeps me going," said Beltre. "I have had a decent career. I have accomplished a couple of things. I make good money. But I want to be a champion. That is what drives me. We have been close, really close."

Close like in losing the 2010 World Series in five games to the Giants and then suffering a seven-game loss to the Cardinals in '11 -- losing the final two games that year, including a 10-9, 11-inning loss in Game 6.

"I haven't come out on top," Beltre said. "My window is closing. I'm pretty sure if we win this year, it's going to make it easier for me to decide to go home and enjoy my kids. But for now, it is difficult for me to go home, because I haven't gotten the win that I want."

That challenge won't begin until April. Right now, the focus is on the Classic and Beltre's left calf, which is a factor in his decision to remain with the Rangers until the eve of the Dominican Republic's first game instead of joining the team for exhibition games.

"I want to stay here as long as I can and get more treatment," Beltre said. "I talked to Moises [Alou, general manager of the Dominican team] to let him know exactly what I was going to do."

Once he arrives in Miami, Beltre said, there are no promises.

"Even though I am going to go and be prepared to play in the first round, it doesn't mean I have to be in the lineup," he said. "We have a lot of good players on the team. I am going to be one of the players and hopefully contribute."

If Beltre is healthy, rest assured, he will contribute. He is coming off a season in which he hit .300 with 32 home runs and 104 RBIs, and he won an American League Gold Glove Award for his defensive ability.

And there is that emotional motivation of wearing the uniform of the Dominican Republic.

"I am proud to be Dominican," Beltre said. "I am proud to represent my country. I enjoy playing the game, and then to be able to do that for the people back home is special. We know the people in the Dominican are behind us. They are proud of [the 2013 title]."

Beltre had to watch that event unfold from afar. This time, he is going to be in uniform, one of the players representing his country.

This time, a Dominican championship would mean even more for Beltre. Because this time, he can be a part of making it happen.

Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com.

Dominican Republic, Texas Rangers, Adrian Beltre