Short says he'll play in Japan in 2006

Short expects to play in Japan in 2006

Infielder Rick Short, arguably the most popular member of the Nationals because of his long journey to the big leagues, told MLB.com on Friday that he will not play for the team in 2006. Short's contract is expected to be sold to the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japanese Baseball League. Short said an announcement will be made soon.

It will mark the second time Short will play baseball in Japan. In 2003, he played for Chiba Lotte Marines and hit .303 with 12 home runs and 58 RBIs.

"The last word I had heard was that the transaction was moving forward and that my contract was going to be sold," Short said. "The word is Washington and the Eagles had agreed on a price and that it was going to be done. ... It's a step up. It's not Triple-A. I will challenge myself to play over there, too."

The news comes, according to Short, after general manager Jim Bowden and assistant GM Bob Boone hinted to the right-handed hitter that he would most likely start the season at Triple-A New Orleans and would go back and forth between the Minor League and the Major Leagues levels. Bowden was not available for comment.

Short said he figured out he was not in Washington's plans after it signed reserves Marlon Anderson, Robert Fick, Bernie Castro and Damian Jackson to free agent contracts this offseason. The Nationals already have another reserve in Jamey Carroll, a Frank Robinson favorite, and the team is high on infielder Brendan Harris.

'I don't think I was going to get a chance in the big leagues, to be honest with you," Short said. "They didn't tell me straight up, but I think, in so many words, I was going to start the year in New Orleans. I don't think I have anything to prove there. I gave it my best effort and for whatever reason, I can't get a shot."

"My dream is to play is to play in the United States and in the big leagues and I got a chance to do that [this past season] and I proved to myself that I could do it."

Short, 32, made his made his Major League debut on June 10. It came after nine-plus seasons in the Minor Leagues and one year in Japan. It took Short so long to reach the big leagues because of his less-than stellar performance with the glove.

Short ended up having three stints in the Majors and went 6-for-15 (.400) with two home runs and four RBIs for the Nationals.

Short's season came to an end against the Mets, however, on Sept. 23 when he dislocated his left shoulder.

With one out, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes hit a groundball on the right side of second base. Short dove, backhanded the ball and tried to throw out Reyes, who was safe on the play. The dive injured his shoulder and Short was on the ground for several. Short said he has fully recovered from the injury.

But it was in the Minor Leagues in which Short made his big splash in 2005. He had a chance to finish the season with a .400 average, but ended it batting .383 with 11 home runs and 70 RBIs.

In other news, the Nationals sent Minor League outfielder Cedric Brooks to the Rockies to complete the trade that sent Preston Wilson to the Nationals on July 13.

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