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Team USA ill-served by Johnson

Team USA ill-served by Johnson
LOS ANGELES - And Davey slept.

Actually, as poorly as Davey Johnson managed, the people at USA Baseball who appointed him should be even more embarrassed.

But no.

Granderson flied out. Another rally sputtered. And still, Team USA had one more chance.

It came with one out in the eighth, after Mark DeRosa hit a two-run triple to reduce the deficit to 6-4. Johnson had told Victorino he was going to hit for Granderson. But at the last minute, the manager changed his mind.

Longoria, a right-handed, strikeout-prone slugger who had just joined the team, got the call over Victorino, a left-handed contact hitter who was 6-for-19 in the tournament — and was entering the game anyway as Granderson's replacement.

"I was trying to get Longoria in the game," Johnson said. "That was going to be the tying run."

Japan reacted unconventionally — and urgently — bringing its infield in, unwilling to concede a run even with a two-run lead.

Longoria struck out, Brian Roberts grounded out and Team USA's final threat was over.

"I didn't know exactly when I was going to hit until he said, 'You're going up right now,'" Longoria said. "There's no excuse. I was getting ready the whole time, especially in the role I was in. I was a little surprised, but I did my best to prepare myself."

All of the U.S. players did their best, even though the team made three errors and Dunn misplayed a ball in right field, unpardonable sins against a club as fundamentally sound as Japan.

Maybe, to keep pace with Japan and Korea, Team USA should start training even earlier than it did this spring. But for all the talk of injuries and absences, the players were the least of the team's problems.

Let this tournament be a wakeup call.

Next time, find the equivalent of a Theo Epstein or Billy Beane to manage the roster. Next time, find Showalter or some other preparation guru to manage the games.

Get serious. Get smart. Or get out.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: March 23, 2009

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