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Notes: Dirk's visit, Andres Blanco's value

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Manager Ron Washington said he was able to spend a little time with Dirk Nowitzki before Friday's game and was excited to see the Mavericks star. Nowitzki threw out the first pitch (and even took a shot with a basketball) prior to the game as a sellout crowd gave him a huge ovation.

Washington pulled out a sock full of 9 or 10 baseballs that he had Nowitzki sign for him.

"He's a champion," Washington said. "He's proved that and his team proved that. When it was crunch time, they gave him the ball. He didn't let them down. That's what a champion and a winner is all about."

Washington said he tried out for basketball in junior high, but was cut.

"I thought I was good and got cut," Washington said. "I never went out again."

Other notes:

* Andres Blanco gets more time at shortstop now with Elvis Andrus out of the lineup for at least the next few days with the sprained left wrist. Blanco is on the club as a utility infielder, but with Michael Young's versatility and the fact that the club has one of the best infields in baseball, it's tough for Blanco to find playing time. But Washington has said ever since spring training started that he wanted Blanco as the backup shortstop. He would use Young if needed, but prefers he plays first, second and third when he's in the field.

* Craig Gentry is in center today with Josh Hamilton as the DH. Gentry came in for the ninth inning in Friday's game as a defensive replacement.