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The late-game Adam Dunn dilemma

If the Nationals are leading late in a game, Adam Dunn and his -25.0 UZR/150 lurking over at first base will not be a comforting thought. The Nationals believe Dunn will be an adequate first baseman in due time, but the irregular playing time spring training promotes has not yet allowed him to settle into his new position.

Because of that, the Nationals may use a defensive replacement for Dunn early in the season. If they do, Manager Jim Riggleman said, they hope it will be only a temporary procedure.

"If we had a lead tomorrow, I probably would substitute for him late," Riggleman said. "But that's the goal, is to get to the point where we don't do that. There's examples all over baseball where there are some big-time players who are maybe not as good as somebody who could replace them. They do stay on the field. It's kind of hard to put in words, but you like your big guys, your big-time players, you like them to finish the game on the field rather than be replaced."

Riggleman has a laundry list of potential late-game candidates in mind at first, and the possibilities depend on the composition of the 25-man. Mike Morse, Adam Kennedy, Josh Willingham, Willie Harris, whichever player becomes the utility infielder, likely Eric Bruntlett, could all play first.

Kennedy would be an interesting choice, because he would have to move over from second base and the utility infielder would enter and play second. Kennedy has started two games at first base in his career and played in four.

In another piece of defensive news, Cristian Guzman will play consecutive games at shortstop Friday and Saturday. It'll be his first back-to-back action and serve as a gauge for how his shoulder is coming along.

By Adam Kilgore  |  March 25, 2010; 4:30 PM ET
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I'm having a hard time keeping up with all of the posts, whew! It's a good thing though. I'm rooting for Dunn to get better defensively, but I'm not holding my breath either. Making a change late in the game when we have a lead (what a concept!) will probably not hurt his feelings. He's a team player. He wants to win.

Posted by: PattyinSJ | March 25, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Grrrrrr. I was hoping that the myth that Josh Willingham is a first baseman had left with the previous administration. With all the action he saw at first last year with the Nats (an inning), he's now up to a whopping 4 innings of major league experience at that position. The notion that you'd replace Dunn with Willingham for defensive purposes is ridiculous.

Posted by: joebleux | March 25, 2010 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I had a chance to watch Jim Bowden's latest installment (week 7). He must still read these blogs ... ~laughing~ changed his whole backdrop .. to early baseball geek. Still photos of his lady Joy in the montage but only the more tasteful portrait shots. Yikes!!!!

That said. Probably the very best show yet. Over in Ben's game thread we were talking trades ... what would you have to give up to get Ryan Zimmerman. So, I trotted out the six best prospects in the Texas system and asked Ben if he would do it. He said yeah, but he would save the game in his playstation so he wouldn't lose it. If you watch this show these guys are basically saying, that yeah, they do throw stuff like that out to the other GMs!

However, its extremely hard to make a trade. An immense amount of research is apparently done ... seems like today with access to so many different reports and records it may actually be harder to complete deals.

But I am spoiling it ... highly recommended viewing for all those interested in seeing a deal done for a right fielder. And on how players feel about being traded.

The keynote message: you must have good relationships with all 29 GM's. Poisoning even one of those relationships could hurt your team.

Posted by: periculum | March 25, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

I've not been optimistic about Olsen and Wang and recovery from shoulder surgery.

I've not been optimistic about Marquis and Capps.

I've not been optimistic about Cristian Guzman, his defense, his offense, or his shoulder.

However, I have been optimistic that Adam Dunn, a 30 year old athlete, an all state football player, a man blessed with a very good eye and good hand eye coordination, could learn to play a reasonable first base.

This is a bummer.
By all accounts, he's making very little progress.

I really hope that June brings us not just Detwiler, Wang, Strasburg and Storen, but that we'll look up and suddenly realize, Dunn is playing a reasonably capable first base.

Posted by: Sunderland | March 25, 2010 5:45 PM | Report abuse

So, with a week and a half to go before opening day, the 103 loss Nats have big question marks at 1B, SS, RF, at least 3 rotation spots and half the bullpen including closer... Things are looking up! :-)

Posted by: Kev29 | March 25, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

wait, this is RIGGLEMAN's list? A bunch of guys who **don't play first base** would be better than the guy who's starting??

We are so scrood.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 25, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

Let me resurrect an old, long-ignored suggestion: Guzman. At first. Late. Desmond to SS, late, for D.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | March 25, 2010 10:18 PM | Report abuse

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