SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (AP) -Cuban baseball player Alexei Ramirez will seek Dominican citizenship and hopes to sign with a major league team by the end of October, his Florida-based agent said Thursday.
Ramirez, who hit 20 home runs and batted .335 with 68 RBIs last season in Cuba, said his decision was about family, not politics.
``I do not consider myself a deserter. I took this step to be with my family,'' Ramirez told The Associated Press as he sat with wife and two young children at a Santo Domingo hotel.
Ramirez spent most of his seven years with Pinar del Rio as a second baseman and outfielder but hopes to sign as a shortstop to follow in the footsteps of favorite players Ozzie Smith, Rey Ordonez and Omar Vizquel.
His agent, Jaime Torres, said at least six teams have already expressed interest.
Ramirez, who is about to turn 26, left Cuba on Sept. 6 aboard a direct flight from Havana to Santo Domingo, said Torres, who also represents Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras.
Living in the Caribbean country on a tourist visa that will be valid for several more weeks, Ramirez has applied for residency and will then seek citizenship as the husband of a Dominican.
He plans to keep his Cuban citizenship as well, Torres said. Ramirez said he someday hoped to return to Cuba, ``if it's God's will.''
If that approval comes through as planned, he will begin the process with U.S. immigration officials to get a visa to play in the United States, Torres said.
Officials with the Dominican immigration department could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Ramirez and his 30-year-old wife, Mildred, met while she was studying medicine in Cuba, the couple said. They now have two children: a year-old son, Alexei, and a four-month-old daughter, Alexa.
Several Cuban ballplayers have used Dominican residency as a stepping stone to U.S. baseball, including recent defector Kendry Morales, now of the Los Angeles Angels.
Associated Press writer Dionisio Soldevila contributed to this report.

Top MLB Public Bets


MLB Top Stories

Thumbnail Chicago aims to bounce back vs. Cleveland After hammering the Cubs in last night’s World Series opener, the Indians can’t wait to get back to the field for Game 2. Thankfully for the hosts, their...
Thumbnail World Series opener pits Lester vs. Kluber Two title-starved organizations are ready to kick off one of the most intriguing World Series matchups we’ve seen in some time.
Thumbnail Kershaw tries to keep visitors' run going The Cubs seized a 3-2 edge in the NLCS by winning Games 4 and 5 in Los Angeles. Will Clayton Kershaw be able to save the Dodgers’...
Thumbnail North Siders' bats rise as NCLS progresses Anthony Rizzo is still batting well below .200 in the playoffs. Yet the Chicago first baseman seems to be heating up at precisely...
Thumbnail Hosts ask Urias to give them 3-1 NLCS edge Tonight, Julio Urias will make history in Game 4 of the NLCS. The Dodgers simply hope that it’s for all the right reasons.
More inMLB Articles  

MLB Team Pages