Notes: Wilson sizes up RFK Stadium

Notes: Wilson sizes up RFK Stadium

WASHINGTON -- Nationals center fielder Preston Wilson saw the spacious Robert F. Kennedy Stadium for the first time on Monday, and it doesn't appear that he will be spooked like teammates Jose Guillen and Vinny Castilla.

Wilson reiterated that he played in spacious Dolphins Stadium in Florida and Coors Field in Colorado and wasn't affected in any way. His best season with the Marlins, for example, was in 2000 when he hit .264 with 31 home runs and 121 RBIs. Twelve of those home runs were hit at Dolphins Stadium.

In 2003, Wilson hit .282 with 36 home runs and 141 RBIs, and 21 of the long balls went over the fences at Coors Field.

Wilson, who was known as a basestealer with the Marlins, said he didn't attempt to steal a lot of bases in Colorado because he had to cover a lot of ground at Coors Field.

"It wasn't worth trying to steal bases. To have to cover that outfield and steal bases, it would put a beating on your body," Wilson said.

Asked what he thought about covering RFK Stadium, Wilson said, "It's no more room than I'm used to covering. I'll be right at home here. It looks big and spacious. The good thing is I have a lot of room to run and I have some good outfielders to help me out."

He thought it over: After Sunday's game against the Brewers, manager Frank Robinson was thinking about benching shortstop Cristian Guzman, but the skipper decided to start Guzman on Monday even though he continues to be in a season-long slump. Entering Monday's action, Guzman was hitting .192 and was 0-for-12 against the Brewers this past weekend.

Robinson admitted that he is starting Guzman because he wants the shortstop to stay motivated throughout the season. Robinson also said the entire team is in a slump and it would be unfair to single out Guzman.

"We talk about taking him out of the lineup for a few days or a week," Robinson said. "What damage might that do to him for the rest of the year? You are not just thinking about the rest of this year. You are thinking about next year and the year after."

Robinson refuses to believe that Guzman, a .266 career hitter, has forgotten how to hit.

"I'm trying to figure out what it is that is missing between now and last year," Robinson said. "I didn't see him hit an awful lot [over the years]. But the guy has to be able to hit some. People talk about the lack of the artificial turf -- it can't be that big a difference. We need him."

Robinson's patience with slumping players does not come as a surprise. Last year, for example, Robinson was patient with Expos third baseman Tony Batista, who did virtually nothing with the bat the first three months of the season.

Robinson's patience paid off as Batista went on to hit .241 with 32 home runs and 110 RBIs.

Trade deadline chatter: In need of a backup infielder because of the injury to Junior Spivey, the Nationals have shown interest in Devil Rays infielder Julio Lugo as well as reliever Danys Baez, according to a baseball source.

Lugo is the Devil Rays' everyday shortstop, and is hitting .293 with three home runs and 36 RBIs entering Monday's action. The Nationals feel he could play third base or shortstop in case Guzman or Castilla needed a break.

Baez has been the on the Nationals' radar screen since the Winter Meetings of 2004. He is currently the Devil Rays' closer, and has 16 saves and a 2.45 ERA.

   Nick Johnson  /   1B
Born: 09/19/78
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 225 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Injury report: Nick Johnson, on the disabled list because of a deep bone bruise in his right heel, had the protective boot taken off the heel and is feeling a lot better.

Johnson worked on a stationary bike on Monday, and the Nationals hope that he could play catch on Tuesday.

"I think it's going to be four or five days before we can put a timetable on how on how long he is going to be out for," interim general manager Jim Bowden said.

Infielders Tony Blanco and Henry Mateo will be on rehab assignments starting on Tuesday. Blanco will go to Triple-A New Orleans, while Mateo will play at Double-A Harrisburg.

Blanco is on the disabled list because of vertigo associated with a sinus infection, while Mateo has been hampered with a right shoulder injury all season.

We need you: Bowden is still holding out hope that he could get Barry Larkin to play for the Nationals before the season is over. In fact, Bowden asked Larkin on Monday about coming out of retirement.

Larkin said as recently as last week that his heart is not into playing the game of baseball. If Larkin came out of retirement, Bowden wouldn't have to trade for a middle infielder.

Did you know? After eight seasons with the franchise, Castilla ranks third on the Rockies' all-time list behind Todd Helton and Larry Walker in home runs. Castilla hit 238 home runs for Colorado.

Stat of the day: Entering Monday's action, Nationals relievers are 0-6 with a 3.86 ERA in their last 11 games.

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

Nationals right-hander John Patterson will face the Rockies for the ninth time in his career. He is 2-2 with a 6.04 ERA against them.

In his last start, Patterson pitched six solid innings and gave up two runs on seven hits against the Brewers but got a no-decision. He struck out a career-high nine batters and walked one. Patterson now has 11 no-decisions, and the last time he won a game was on June 10 against the Mariners.

Patterson admitted that it was getting frustrating not to pick up victories.

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