- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 3, 2009

HANRAHAN JOINS DUNN IN WBC

VIERA, Fla. - The Washington Nationals had another player make a belated trip to Clearwater, Fla., on Monday to join the U.S. entry in the World Baseball Classic. Closer Joel Hanrahan was named to the team, joining slugger Adam Dunn. Hanrahan accepted an invitation that came after a trio of relievers - the Angels’ Brian Fuentes, the Twins’ Joe Nathan and the Blue Jays’ B.J. Ryan - pulled out.

The announcement was nice for Hanrahan, who said he had hoped to be named to the team when the initial rosters came out and has never participated in an international tournament. He got approval from pitching coach Randy St. Claire and manager Manny Acta, as well as a ringing endorsement from former Nationals reliever Chad Cordero, who pitched for the United States in 2006.

Whatever personal vindication the selection brings for Hanrahan, it might offer even more in the way of professional development. His save opportunities for the 59-win Nationals were few and far between when he took on the closer’s role late last July; he was 9-for-13 in save situations. And the hard-throwing reliever said he is still trying to develop a change-up.

But now he will have a chance to work on the pitch against far better hitting than he would otherwise see in spring training, along with more experience in tough situations.

“I still have some work to do,” he said. “There is still work to do to get ready for the season. You are still committed to the Nationals. You have to be 100 percent for them when April 6 comes around.”

TAKING A BREAK

Monday was the first of four off-days for the Nationals during spring training, though several pitchers played Wiffle ball with St. Claire and a few position players were at Space Coast Stadium to work out. The Nationals’ next two off-days are expected to have a similar lull, but a team workout is scheduled for March 17. …

The Nationals posted their lineup for Tuesday’s exhibition game against Italy’s World Baseball Classic team. Jesus Flores, who had an MRI on his strained right elbow Monday, was listed as an available pinch hitter, which presumably confirms the club’s belief that the injury isn’t serious.

- Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

STAN KASTEN [UP]

Team president adds GM duties to his plate, at least temporarily

JOEL HANRAHAN [UP]

WBC experience is good chance to face hitters in games that matter

FLORIDA TEMPERATURES [DOWN]

The new guy is allowed one gripe about low-60s temperatures, right?

TUESDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Mostly sunny, 33 degrees

Viera: Mostly sunny, 64 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Tuesday: vs. Team Italy (WBC) in Viera, 1 p.m.

Wednesday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1 p.m.

Thursday: vs. Tigers in Lakeland, 1 p.m.

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