Adam Dunn of the Washington Nationals Accepts Spot on the United States Roster for World Baseball Classic

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 2, 2009

VIERA, Fla., March 1 -- Saturday night, Adam Dunn received a call from Davey Johnson. The Team USA manager, preparing for the upcoming World Baseball Classic, had a question: Did Dunn want to temporarily leave his new team for an even newer team?

Sunday morning, after speaking with Manager Manny Acta, Dunn committed to the WBC, a tournament that will take Dunn away from the Washington Nationals just as he adapts to his new surroundings. The WBC tournament begins on Thursday, but Dunn departed Sunday for Clearwater, Fla., to join the U.S. squad.

In the past four days, Johnson's team has lost four players -- including outfielders Brad Hawpe and Grady Sizemore -- from its roster.

"I didn't want to do anything until I talked to Manny, because I think that's only fair," Dunn said Sunday, just before leaving. "As soon as I talked to him, he was very ecstatic about it."

Dunn figured that the benefits of the tournament -- especially the competitive atmosphere -- outweighed whatever problems resulted from the time missed. Questions remain about whether the Nationals will use Dunn at first base or in the outfield, but during the first weeks of spring training, and even during the first week of exhibition games, Dunn has gotten work at both spots.

"I think I've played everywhere they want me to play," Dunn said. "Hopefully. If they don't want me playing catcher or something."

Acta, who managed the Dominican team in the 2006 WBC, has long been one of the tournament's ardent supporters. The Nationals now have two members of their 40-man roster in the tournament; reliever Saúl Rivera (Puerto Rico) is the other.

"He's excited, because I told him about it," Acta said of his conversation with Dunn. "I told him every game counts. It's important. It's intense. It seems like you have to win every game because of the format, and he was gung-ho about that."

Johnson Homers in Loss

Nick Johnson, coming off an injury-shortened season, hit a solo home run for the Nationals in a 7-5 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

Left-hander Scott Olsen -- acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Florida Marlins -- pitched two scoreless innings.

Olsen was followed by Tyler Clippard, Terrell Young and Garrett Mock, who combined to give up six runs on seven hits over four innings. . . .

Catcher Jesús Flores had a right elbow strain diagnosed after Sunday's game. He is scheduled for an MRI exam on Monday, but the team does not believe the injury is serious.

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