Draft Pick Hood Swings By to Take It All In

By Mark Viera and Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writers
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Destin Hood toured the White House, took pictures with members of the Los Angeles Angels and then chatted up Lastings Milledge of the Washington Nationals. His visit to Washington yesterday for the Nationals' game against the Angels may have left him slightly star-struck.

"This is what dreams are made of," his father, Dewayne Hood, said as he looked around Nationals Park. "It's great."

The Nationals hope Hood, their second-round draft pick, will some day be an attraction in this city. Trying to decide whether he should play wide receiver at Alabama or sign with the Nationals, Hood paid a visit to the stadium for what amounted to a major league recruiting trip. He dressed in the Nationals' locker room, took batting practice with the team and received plenty of notice from club officials.

As Hood blasted home runs over the outfield fence, General Manager Jim Bowden spread a smile. He greeted Hood, stepping from the batting cage, with a high-five.

"He's a baseball player first and a football player second," Bowden said. "I've had experience with the other. But in this case, he was clear to me from Day One he's a baseball player who plays football. This is what he wants to do, and I believe him."

Hood, who is still unsure which avenue he will choose, said there is no timetable for his decision. The Nationals would lose rights to him if he does not sign by Aug. 15, but would receive a compensatory second-round draft pick next year.

"I would love to pursue a professional career," Hood said, "but we've just got to work everything out with my parents and everything."

He starred as a high school shortstop-outfielder in Mobile, Ala., and could develop into a No. 4 hitter.

Lo Duca Leaves Early

Paul Lo Duca, who started yesterday in left field, exited the game in the middle of the second inning with what was described by the team as "lightheadedness." He was taken to Sibley Memorial Hospital, where he was examined, then released by the end of the night. Manager Manny Acta said: "He seems to be okay. Just a couple of IVs and he was on his way."

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