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Derek Lee declines invite to join Team USA


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Derrek Lee will not be playing in the World Baseball Classic after all.

The Cubs' first baseman, who has missed the team's last two spring training games with a strained right quadriceps, has elected not to play for Team USA, according to major-league sources.

The U.S. squad has been looking for additional help at first since Kevin Youkilis left the Classic due to a sprained left ankle. Youkilis has returned to Red Sox camp in Fort Myers, Fla.

Lee hasn't played a full nine-inning game yet this spring.

Adam Dunn eliminated himself from further consideration at first by making two errors in Wednesday night's 10-6 loss to Venezuela, one on a wild throw, one on a muffed grounder. He would have been charged with a third error on another wild throw, but a balk erased the play.

The leading internal candidate to replace Youkilis is the Indians' Mark DeRosa, though he has played only 13 career games at first. DeRosa, 34, appeared in one game at first for the Cubs last season and nine in 2007. But U.S. manager Johnson has said that Indians manager Eric Wedge requested that DeRosa not play first base.

Of course, Johnson also said Wednesday that the Nationals asked for Dunn not to play first, but Nats acting general manager Mike Rizzo told FOXSports.com that he had no problem with the idea.

The decision not to play was Lee's choice, according to sources. On Wednesday, Cubs GM Jim Hendry said he had no issues if Lee wanted to play.

"It's up to Derrek," Hendry told FOXSports.com. "I would never tell anybody not to play for their country. If he wanted to go, and the trainer and doctor cleared him, I would never stand in his way."

Hendry said the Cubs have rested Lee the last two days in part due to the length of spring training and to "keep him fresh." Lee is expected to be available by the weekend.

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