Notes: Vidro has a reason to smile

Notes: Vidro has a reason to smile

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- It was the bottom of the sixth inning between the Nationals and Mets on Saturday afternoon. Washington second baseman Jose Vidro was sitting in front of his locker drinking Gatorade. After taking a sip, a smiling and sweating Vidro said, "Hmm, that's good."

Vidro had reason to feel good. He just finished playing his first Spring Training game of the season and his right knee, which has bothered him for more than two years, was pain free.

The switch-hitting second baseman played five-plus innings and went 1-for-3 with a single to left and completed a double play in the third inning. Vidro played more innings than he expected and said it has been a long time since he played more than five innings in a Spring Training game.

"I felt very good," Vidro said. "I very excited. I'm happy to get that one under my belt. I don't know what to say."

Manager Frank Robinson said that he had no concerns about Vidro's knee, because the Nationals trainers told the skipper that there were no restrictions on how to handle the second baseman.

"Vidro was fine. He moved around real good," Robinson said. "We had no concerns about the knee, but you never know until he gets out there. Let's see how it goes the next couple of ballgames. I'm very happy the way he performed today."

In his first at-bat, Vidro grounded out after one pitch in the first inning -- later acknowledging that he was anxious. In his second at-bat, he lined out to left field and then singled to left in the top of the sixth before being replaced by a pinch-runner.

Playing those five-plus innings proved to Vidro that the hard work he did during the offseason paid off.

"My knee feels great. My body feels great," Vidro said. "All that hard work I put into my lower body is going to pay off. I enjoyed playing the game."

The plan for the rest of Spring Training is to have Vidro play three straight games, get three at-bats per game and take a day off every fourth day.

"I told Frank I want to play a lot more," Vidro said. "I want to see how my body reacts after three days and we go from there."

Before the game, Vidro said he was sad when he saw the team from Puerto Rico working out at Tradition Field. The team is going to San Juan, Puerto Rico, on Sunday to participate in the World Baseball Classic. Vidro wanted to play for the team, but he felt it was more important to get healthy and try to play 162 games for the Nationals.

"It hit me harder than I expected when I saw the uniform and some of the guys out there," Vidro said. "Not to be able to put that uniform on, it was very, very sad. Hopefully, I will get a chance one day."

He's getting it: Since going hitless in the first game against the Kia Tigers, Brandon Watson is 5-for-8 (.625) with one stolen base.

In the first game against the Tigers, Watson was not working the count and lunging at almost every pitch, but after having a talk with Robinson, he is doing the little things to get on base. In Friday's game against the Pirates, for example, Watson had a drag bunt for a base hit and singled to left field, which impressed Robinson.

"He now understands what we need from him. He is going out and trying to do those things and just having success," Robinson said. "If he continues to do that, he is going to make this ballclub.

Watson is going to get a long look during Spring Training, because he is the only true leadoff hitter in the organization.

Changes in the booth: Mel Proctor told that he was relieved of his duties as the TV play-by-play voice of the Nationals. It has been rumored for the last three months that Proctor was going to be let go.

According to Proctor, Bob Whitelaw, an executive at MASN, informed him of the decision on Friday. Proctor said he was very surprised, because nobody complained about his work in the booth.

"They just told me that they were going in a different direction," Proctor said.

According to a press release put out by the Cardinals, Bob Carpenter will be the new TV voice of the Nationals. He did Cardinals games on WB 11 in St. Louis for several years. Whenever a home run is hit, Carpenter is known to say, "See you later."

A baseball source said that Tom Paciorek is the leading candidate to be the Nationals' color analyst on MASN. The Nationals have been looking for a color analyst since Ron Darling took a similar gig with the Mets.

Coming up: The Nationals play the Orioles at Space Coast Stadium on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Jon Rauch will get the start for Washington, while Steve Watkins, Micah Bowie, Santiago Ramirez and Jim Crowell will pitch in relief.

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