06/29/10 8:11 PM ET
Dunn, Nats wish to avoid trade rumors
By Guy Curtright / Special to MLB.com
"This is what I wanted to avoid," Dunn said on Tuesday.
The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Tuesday, citing multiple unnamed sources, that the White Sox covet the big left-handed-hitting first baseman and have explored trade possibilities. The Angels are also reported to be interested.
Dunn, who hit 38 homers for the Nationals last season, is in the final season of a two-year contract worth $20 million that he signed as a free agent. He went into the middle game of the Nationals' three-game set with the Braves batting .276, with 17 homers and 47 RBIs.
"I want to stay," he said. "I don't want to talk about maybe going somewhere else. This gets old. I don't want to be a part of it. The only thing I know [is that] I'll be playing somewhere. I hope it's here."
General manager Mike Rizzo stayed firm in his policy of not talking about potential trades.
"There's a new rumor every day," Rizzo said. "I'm not going to address any of them. It's not fair to anybody. We're not going to do it."
The Nationals and Dunn's representatives have been talking about a contract extension since Spring Training. So far there has been no apparent progress.
"I've talked to his agent on several occasions, so we're communicating," Rizzo said.
"I really don't know what's going on," Dunn, 30, said. "I'm not involved."
The first baseman did make it clear that should he be traded to an American League team, he doesn't want to be a designated hitter.
"I'm not ready to do that," he said. "Maybe in four or five years, but not now."
The 6-foot-6 Dunn has never been known for his defense, whether playing the outfield or first base. But he reached 40 homers in five consecutive seasons before falling just short a year ago, when he hit .267 and drove in 105 runs.
Riggleman, Rizzo in Desmond's corner
ATLANTA -- Ian Desmond, who committed a costly error in the series opener against the Braves, was on the bench for the second time in three games on Tuesday night.
Both general manager Mike Rizzo and manager Jim Riggleman remain firmly in the rookie shortstop's corner, but Desmond is undergoing growing pains, as his 19 errors attest. No one in the Majors has more.
Alberto Gonzalez, the Nationals' steadiest middle infielder, played shortstop, as he had on Sunday in Baltimore, and Cristian Guzman returned to the lineup at second base.
After Monday night's loss, in which Desmond booted a potential double-play grounder that could have prevented the Braves' five-run outburst, Riggleman supported the athletic 24-year-old.
"I don't want him to agonize over particular plays and stuff," Riggleman said. "I just want him to use it as a learning experience and get better at it on a daily basis. ... I'll take nine of him."
Even after leaving Desmond out of the opening lineup Tuesday, Riggleman remained full of praise.
"Desi is going to be a special player here for the next 10 or 12 years," he said.
But Riggleman said that he was keeping Gonzalez, who played second base on Monday night, in the lineup to "get some rust off him. It just felt like a good day to keep Gonzalez in the lineup somewhere."
Rizzo also remains sold on Desmond's potential.
"He's a terrific talent," Rizzo said on Tuesday. "Shortstop is a tough position, and all young players are prone to mistakes there. But he gets to more balls than anyone in the league. He's the talk of every team we play, and we like his progress. It's just unfortunate when he makes an error at a key time as he's learning. But he's a confident kid and always keeps his head up."
Walker may not be out long
ATLANTA -- Tyler Walker, who was put on the 15-day disabled list to clear a roster spot so Craig Stammen could start on Tuesday night, may be back in the bullpen in about a week.
The move is retroactive to June 20, so Walker, who has shoulder inflammation, is eligible to be activated before the All-Star break.
The veteran right-hander hadn't been used since June 19, against the White Sox. He started feeling shoulder pain after he pitched against the Tigers on June 15.
"He was available to be used [the last few days], but he would have been less than 100 percent," manager Jim Riggleman said.
So Riggleman held him out with the thought that a DL stint could open a spot for Stammen when a starter was needed to replace John Lannan, who was sent to Double-A Harrisburg on June 21.
Walker, who was sent to Washington to be examined further by team doctors and receive a cortisone shot, had appeared in 24 games, going 1-0 with a 3.57 ERA. The 34-year-old has 30 strikeouts to eight walks in 35 1/3 innings and posted a 1.29 ERA in his past 10 appearances.
Riggleman doesn't expect Walker do be out long, but he wouldn't set a timetable.
"We'll see how he responds to treatment," he said. "We want to make sure he can throw multiple innings."
Six prospects going to Eastern League ASG
ATLANTA -- Six Nationals prospects will represent host Harrisburg in the Eastern League All-Star Game on July 14. Selected for the Western Division team were shortstop Danny Espinosa, first baseman Chris Marrero, left-handed pitchers Rafael Martin and Tom Milone, infielder Michael Martinez and catcher Jhonatan Solano. The Western Division will be managed by Harrisburg's Randy Knorr.
Guy Curtright is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.