Team USA manager Davey Johnson was right to have reservations about playing Adam Dunn at first base.
The desperation defensive deployment backfired Wednesday night in the World Baseball Classic when Dunn made a wild throw that led to four unearned runs, and Venezuela won Group 2 by beating the Americans 10-6 to conclude second-round play in Miami.
Both teams had already qualified for the semifinals this weekend in Los Angeles. Injury-plagued Team USA is expected to make several roster moves before then.
First baseman and cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis was ruled out for the rest of the tournament because of mild ankle and foot injuries. The only first baseman on the list of potential roster replacements – Derrek Lee of the Chicago Cubs – has been hampered by a sore thigh.
Four other Americans have been sidelined by injuries since the start of round two, and there was concern in the U.S. dugout when third baseman David Wright fouled a ball off his foot in the first inning.
Wright cracked his left big toenail and hobbled through the rest of the game, in part because the only available position player on the bench was catcher Brian McCann. X-rays were negative, and Wright said he’s certain he’ll be able to play in the semifinals.
The WBC semifinals begin Saturday, when Venezuela will play the second-seeded team from Group 1 at Dodger Stadium. The Americans play in the other semifinal Sunday.
The semifinalists from Group 1 in San Diego will be South Korea and Japan, which defeated Cuba 5-0 Wednesday night.
Japan jumped ahead 2-0 in the fourth on an error by center fielder Yoennis Cespedes.
Japan’s Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners went 2 for 5, with a ninth-inning triple.
Griffey set for outfield
Ken Griffey Jr. will make his first start of the spring in left field when the Seattle Mariners play the San Diego Padres today in Peoria, Ariz.
Griffey has been relegated to DH for Seattle while recovering from off-season knee surgery. The 39-year-old has said he hopes to play in the outfield regularly once the season begins.
Seattle manager Don Wakamatsu said the plan is to play Griffey three consecutive games, first in left, then DH, then back in left field.
Griffey is batting only .143 this spring. He has yet to hit his first home run since re-signing with his first team and hasn’t driven in a run.
Washburn limits Royals
Jarrod Washburn had his longest and best outing of spring training for Seattle.
Washburn struck out five in 52/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits, as the Mariners defeated the Kansas City Royals 9-3 at Surprise, Ariz.
Rookie Mike Wilson went 3 for 4 with two home runs, four RBIs and scored three runs.
Washburn (2-2), a 34-year-old left-hander, threw 81 pitches before being replaced by Miguel Batista with two out in the sixth.
“For the most part I was pleased,” Washburn said. “I fell behind a couple of guys and got hurt, but for the most part everything was working.”
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