Notes: Soriano's stay with Nats limited?

Notes: Soriano's stay with Nats limited?

WASHINGTON -- After Friday night's victory over the Cubs, left fielder Alfonso Soriano sounded like a person who wanted to stay with the Nationals, but as each day passes before the July 31 trade deadline, the prospect of him staying with Washington long-term seems unlikely.

The Nationals are looking for young prospects, pitchers in particular, for Soriano, and according to baseball sources, the Angels, Tigers, White Sox and Yankees are the front runners to acquire Soriano's services. There also have been reports that the Dodgers, Mariners and Twins also are in the mix. General manager Jim Bowden declined to talk about trade discussions or which teams are interested in Soriano.

The Angels are loaded with prospects, and second baseman Howie Kendrick and right-hander Ervin Santana are reported to be the players the Nationals want in any kind of deal involving Soriano.

As far as the Tigers go, the Nationals are believed to have primary interest in center fielder Cameron Maybin, whom Washington worked out in the days leading up to last year's First-Year Player Draft before deciding on third baseman Ryan Zimmerman.

Maybin is playing for Class A West Michigan and hitting .314 with four home runs and 43 RBIs entering Saturday's action.

The White Sox are a team that entered the picture just recently. It's not known who the White Sox would give up, but if Soriano landed in Chicago, he most likely would play left field. That would make one wonder what the White Sox would do with left fielder Scott Podsednik. Would he be part of a deal to Washington? Podsednik, a leadoff hitter, is having an off season with the glove, committing six errors, but he is hitting .275 with two home runs, 34 RBIs and 29 stolen bases.

The Yankees have been talking to the Nationals for weeks about Soriano. Washington has its eye on right-hander Phillip Hughes, who is 6-3 with a 2.57 ERA for Double-A Trenton. One source said the Nationals also are looking at first baseman Eric Duncan, who also can play third base. He is currently playing for Trenton.

"I would like to stay [in Washington] ... but I'm happy that other teams want me because I have something special to give to that team," Soriano said. "I like [the Nationals]. They are a young team, and I believe in this team and it's a great city of the United States. I love D.C., and I think we have a chance. I believe in my fans here."

Transaction: With the hamstring injury to Alex Escobar, the Nationals recalled outfielder Ryan Church from Triple-A New Orleans and optioned right-hander Kevin Gryboski to New Orleans on Saturday.

Church was hitting .246 with seven homers and 29 RBIs in 53 games for New Orleans, including 10-for-28 (.357) with two doubles, three homers and seven RBIs over his last six games there.

Church, who will platoon with Luis Matos in center field, is expected to start against the Cubs on Sunday.

Church entered Saturday's game in the seventh inning as a pinch-runner and remained in the game as a defensive replacement in center field.

"It's great to be back, to get that reception from the crowd," Church said. "Mentally, I've been battling through adversity. This year has been a reality check. It has been a humbling experience."

After starting the year at New Orleans, the left-handed-hitting Church was recalled to Washington on April 14, and he hit .215 with four homers and 11 RBIs in 23 games. Church was optioned to Double-A Harrisburg on May 19, then transferred to New Orleans on May 27. He was 4-for-19 (.211) with a pair of homers while at Harrisburg.

Gryboski, who had his contract purchased from New Orleans last Saturday, allowed four runs in 2 2/3 innings over four appearances. Gryboski said he needs to work on his slider, which he had problems keeping down.

"I didn't exactly light it up. I'll just go down there and fine-tune my game," Gryboski said.

Don't trade me: Right-hander Livan Hernandez reiterated on Saturday that he doesn't want to be traded before the July 31 deadline. The Mets are one team that want his services, but they are not willing to part with top outfield prospect Lastings Milledge to get him.

Hernandez said he has not talked to Bowden or manager Frank Robinson about his future. Hernandez doesn't want to be distracted by trade talk.

"I want to stay here," Hernandez said. "I want to be part of the team and the new stadium. I like this organization. They treat me like a professional. That's more important."

Hernandez often has said that his three-plus years with the Nationals are his happiest in baseball and the organization allowed him to pitch in peace.

Around the horn: Right-hander Ryan Drese will make his third rehab start for Double-A Harrisburg on Wednesday against Altoona. He is hoping it will be his last start in the Minor Leagues and that he will be activated soon thereafter. Drese is on the disabled list because of a slight tear in his ulna collateral ligament. ... Jose Vidro said his left hamstring is feeling better, but he is not going to test his leg until Tuesday. ... For his 50th birthday, Tom Hanks is visiting every ballpark in the Major Leagues, and Hanks visited RFK Stadium on Saturday.

Robinson told Hanks: "There's no crying in baseball."

Send in your questions: The Nationals mailbag runs every Monday. Send in your questions now.

Stat of the day: Entering Saturday's action, the Nationals' starting pitchers are 0-6 with a 7.17 ERA in their last 13 games.

Did you know? Zimmerman holds the franchise's rookie record with a 17-game hitting streak. He hit .406 (28-for-69) with two home runs and 13 RBIs during that stretch. The streak came to an end on Wednesday against the Marlins.

Coming up: The Nationals will play the finale of a three-game series against the Cubs on Sunday at 1:05 p.m. ET. Right-hander Tony Armas (6-5, 4.61 ERA) will take the mound for Washington, while righty Carlos Marmol (3-3, 3.86 ERA) will start for Chicago.

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