Nationals Notebook

Adam Dunn Returns to First Big League Home, Cincinnati

Nationals slugger Adam Dunn played 1,087 games for Cincinnati.
Nationals slugger Adam Dunn played 1,087 games for Cincinnati. "Lot of good bombs here," he said upon returning to Great American Ball Park. (By Haraz N. Ghanbari -- Associated Press)
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By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 14, 2009

CINCINNATI, Aug. 13 -- Adam Dunn, back in 1998, was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds. He debuted in the majors with them as a 21-year-old. He played 1,087 games for them.

But last year, on Aug. 11, Dunn was traded by the only organization he ever knew, dealt to Arizona in a move that preceded his free agent deal with the Washington Nationals. Not until Thursday -- more than a year after leaving -- did he return to the city that remembers him as a sometimes-maligned power hitter who crushed fastballs far greater distances than he ever carried his team.

"Is this the first time back?" hitting coach Rick Eckstein asked Dunn before the first game of this series at Great American Ball Park.

"Yeah," Dunn said. "Lot of good bombs here."

As part of the welcome-back routine, Dunn held court with members of the Cincinnati media, who probed his feelings on treatment by the fans and the team. (Dunn expressed goodwill about both.)

"Oh man. What do I miss most?" Dunn later said. "I really miss the ballpark. I think it's a very, very good place to play." He chuckled. "You know, I met a lot of great people here, man, that are really hard to replace, because you're with them day in and day out for X amount of years. So that's probably the main stuff that I miss."

Dunn noticed even the smallest changes at the stadium. That strip of red paint on an upper facade -- brand new, he said. He also wondered aloud if any Cincinnati player this season had hit a sign beyond that right-center wall that, if dinged, would reward a random fan with a Toyota Tundra.

Not yet, he was told.

"This is the time I'll finally do it," Dunn joked.

Riggleman on Strasburg

Interim manager Jim Riggleman had this to say about Stephen Strasburg, the No. 1 pick who must be signed by Monday:

"Well, it would be a huge step for the organization [to sign him]. I really don't want to say too much about it because I know that [acting general manager] Mike [Rizzo] and [team president] Stan [Kasten] and the Lerner family is totally committed to signing the young guy, and we will welcome him into the organization. Can't wait to have him. But these things get a lot more complicated than those of us in uniform can deal with."

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