Notes: Guillen able to speak his mind

Notes: Guillen able to speak his mind

WASHINGTON -- What is the key to Nationals manager Frank Robinson having a great relationship with outfielder Jose Guillen? Just listen and let Guillen speak his mind, which has often gotten Guillen in trouble during his nine-year career in the big leagues.

If the Nationals are not playing fundamentally sound baseball, Guillen is the first to go into his skipper's office and express his concerns. According to Robinson, Guillen doesn't take losing very well.

Robinson said Guillen's actions could be taken the wrong way if one doesn't get to know him like Robinson has.

"I listen to him talk about situations. It's usually baseball. He doesn't kid around a lot," Robinson said. "When he comes to talk to me, I know that he's serious or he's upset about something. I'm open and honest with him. If I think he's off base, I'll tell him. If I agree with him, I will tell him that he is right."

Guillen said there are people who don't always get along with Robinson, but he's not one of them. Guillen said that Robinson appreciates the fact that Guillen plays hard every night.

"He knows that I come to play every single day. He said I play old school baseball like he used to," Guillen said. "There is only one way to play and that's to play hard every day."

Help is on the way: Barry Larkin, the special assistant to the general manager, is in Washington this weekend to help Cristian Guzman get back on track with the bat. Entering Friday's action, Guzman was in a 9-for-68 slump.

Larkin has spent the last few weeks scouting amateur players for the First-Year Player Draft, and he has a newfound respect for scouts.

"It's a tough job. I appreciate more what those scouts really go through," Larkin said. "But it was something I wanted to be exposed to. I have been exposed to it now. It's just another feather I can put in my cap.

"The schedule the scouts have to keep -- I don't know how [scouting director] Dana Brown does it. You really have to arrange your schedule so you could see some quality at-bats and some quality situations. Those games sometimes get long, too."

File this away: Larkin said that interim general manager Jim Bowden constantly asks him to unretire and play for the Nationals. Larkin has turned all of Bowden's offers down.

However, Larkin told after Friday's game that he would consider playing again if the Nationals "were in dire straits."

"If they were to fall flat on their face, I would do what I have to do, but I don't believe it will get to that," Larkin said.

However, if the Nationals were, say, in first place with a five-game lead in the National League East on Aug. 1, Larkin would be reluctant to unretire. He said he doesn't want to ruin team chemistry.

According to a team source, Larkin is in good shape. He works out three times a week.

Let's take a look: Outfielders Cameron Maybin and Jay Bruce are scheduled to work out for the Nationals on Saturday. They are expected to be high picks in the 2005 First-Year Player Draft, which begins on Tuesday.

The Nationals have the fourth overall pick.

Update on Graves: Bowden believes that reliever Danny Graves, who is currently a free agent, will go in another direction and not sign with the Nationals.

Bowden believes Graves still wants to be a closer, but the Nationals already have one in Chad Cordero. Bowden also said that Graves would not supplant setup men Luis Ayala and Gary Majewski.

"Cordero, Ayala and Majewski are our three guys. That may affect us negatively on Danny signing here," Bowden said. "I would love to have Danny here. I think we could fix Danny and he would be a great fourth guy in our bullpen. We are committed to our three kids and we are not going to give it to anybody else. They have earned it. They are our go-to guys."

   Brad Wilkerson  /   CF
Born: 06/01/77
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Injury report: Outfielder Brad Wilkerson didn't start in Friday's game against the Marlins because of sore right hand. He is listed as day-to-day.

Wilkerson believes his hand is sore because of the right forearm injury he has been hampered with for over a month.

Nick Johnson said he is OK after suffering from reflux, which caused pains in his chest. He was in Friday's starting lineup and smacked an RBI triple in the fourth.

Vargas signs with Arizona: Right-hander Claudio Vargas, who was designated for assignment on May 26, was claimed off waivers on Friday by the Diamondbacks. Vargas has been added to the Arizona's big league roster.

Vargas was 0-3 with a 9.24 ERA with the Nationals. His best game was on May 11, when he pitched six solid innings and gave up one unearned run against the Diamondbacks.

"I told [assistant general manager] Tony Siegle [that] there is one team that would claim him because they saw that one game. I would have done the same thing," Bowden said. "I wish Claudio the best, but it didn't work for us. Maybe they can fix him. We tried. We are not going to spend our whole lives making players into something we can't."

Stat of the day: Entering Friday's action, 18 of the Nationals' 28 victories have been of the come-from-behind variety.

Did you know? Larkin speaks fluent Spanish. Dave Concepcion, Juan Guzman, Tony Perez and Jose Rijo taught Larkin the language when he played for the Reds.

On deck: The Nationals play the second game of the three-game series against the Marlins on Saturday night at Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.

Right-hander Tomo Ohka will make the start for the Nationals. Ohka, who is looking to win his fourth consecutive decision, will face the Marlins for the third time this season. The last time Ohka faced the Fish was on April 18. Ohka gave up four runs -- three earned -- in five innings in a 9-4 Marlins win at RFK Stadium.

Ohka, who went 2-0 with a 1.82 ERA in May, gave up just one unearned run in seven innings against the Braves in his last outing on Monday.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.