Longoria to join Team USA

Updated: March 20, 2009, 3:09 AM ET
By Amy K. Nelson | ESPN.com

Third baseman Evan Longoria will be joining Team USA, according to Tampa Bay Rays general manager Andrew Friedman.

Longoria will replace injured Chipper Jones on the U.S. roster for the semifinal round of the World Baseball Classic.

Longoria will travel to Los Angeles on Friday to join his new teammates, Friedman told ESPN.com. The help was needed for the U.S., which has lost four of its players to injury. Longoria, the 2008 AL Rookie of the Year, will give manager Davey Johnson depth.

Longoria was included on the 43-man provisional U.S. roster in January but was left off the squad that opened the tournament. USA Baseball executive director Paul Seiler said Thursday that the Americans were fortunate to have a player of Longoria's caliber available to fill in for Jones at third base.

"With the opportunity to make a roster change, Evan is too valuable not to have on our club," Seiler said in a statement.

The U.S. will play Sunday at Dodger Stadium against Japan, which beat South Korea 6-2 Thursday night.

In a 10-6 loss Wednesday night to Venezuela, Johnson had just one position player -- catcher Brian McCann -- on his bench.

It proved to be an issue when third baseman David Wright fouled a pitch off his left toe in the first inning. Wright was clearly in pain, and he said that, had it been a spring training game, he likely would have come out.

The roster issues forced Johnson to start outfielder Adam Dunn at first base. Dunn committed two errors.

Friedman said that USA Baseball did not ask Longoria to play first base and that the Rays "would be opposed" to Longoria's playing first. Right now, the Americans likely are happy just to have another body on the bench.

Team USA has been hit by a rash of injuries.

First baseman and cleanup hitter Kevin Youkilis was ruled out for the rest of the tournament Wednesday because of mild ankle and foot injuries.

Four other Americans have been sidelined by injuries since the start of the second round.

Amy K. Nelson is a staff writer for ESPN.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.