Notes: Vidro a second baseman first

Notes: Vidro a second baseman first

WASHINGTON -- After Saturday's 8-5 victory over the Brewers, manager Frank Robinson approached second baseman Jose Vidro about starting at first base on Sunday afternoon in order to give Nick Johnson the day off. Vidro didn't hesitate. He agreed to do it, even though he has very little experience at the position.

Vidro was then teased by Robert Fick, who called him the "the smallest first baseman in history." Vidro is 5-foot-11.

The last time Vidro played first base before Sunday was May 29, 1999, against the Giants. He played 14 games at the position that same season and made two errors.

"It was not a surprise. I'm going to approach it the same way I do when I play second base," Vidro said. "In a way, it's fun. I remember when I played there [in 1999] -- it was not fun. It's not as easy as it looks."

Vidro ended up having an uneventful day. He used Robert Fick's glove and made three putouts. Vidro left after seven innings and was replaced by Johnson.

"I felt pretty good. By the third inning, I was feeling more comfortable. I'm glad everything went OK," Vidro said. "I'm glad we won the game. I'm glad we went ahead in the seventh. I told Nick before the game, 'You are going to be the closer for me at first base. So be ready.' I'm glad everything went OK."

Vidro almost had a chance to play the position early this season. The Giants were interested in his services before the trade deadline, and had he become a member of the Giants, the plan was to have him play first base. Vidro went on the DL before the deadline.

Asked if putting him at first base was a way to increase his trade value, Vidro declined to answer the question because he didn't want to upset anyone in the organization.

"I don't want to talk about any of that stuff because the last time I talked to you guys about that people got mad about it. I really don't want to comment on that right now," he said. "I'm part of the Nationals. I hope I will be here next year. I don't want to add to it."

Although he agreed to play the position, Vidro doesn't look at first base as a permanent position for him. He still considers himself a second baseman.

"I'm not thinking about that yet. When I get close to retiring, I'll think about it," he said. "My knees have [held up] this year -- who knows. You can never say never in this business, to tell you the truth. I really don't feel like it should be my next step like for next year."

Vidro has lost playing time this month because the Nationals want to see what Bernie Castro can do at second base.

Congrats, Sori: A day after Alfonso Soriano became the fourth player in history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season, Nationals principal owner Mark Lerner and team president Stan Kasten presented Soriano with a plaque with his picture on it. Soriano was moved by the gesture.

"It was very exciting. I think that [was] very important [for] me, coming from the owner and the president of the team," he said.

He's in there: Right-hander Beltran Perez received the word from pitching coach Randy St. Claire before Saturday's game that he would start against the Braves on Tuesday. Perez is a starter by trade, but he doesn't care if he works out of the bullpen. Perez has given up one run in 5 2/3 innings.

"I'm working hard. I'll be a starter and reliever, whatever. It doesn't matter. I want to pitch," Perez said.

Quote of the day
"Not many guys on last-place teams on back-to-back nights get to be part of history."-- Fick, on Soriano becoming the fourth player in baseball history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a season on Saturday and Vidro playing first base on Sunday.

Be a part of the mailbag: The Nationals mailbag runs on Monday. Send in your questions now.

Stat of the day: Entering Sunday's action, opposing hitters are hitting .260 against the Nationals' relievers this season.

Did you know: Outfielder Jose Guillen still ranks second on the team in outfield assists with three. Austin Kearns has six outfield assists, but they were all picked up with the Reds.

Coming up: The Nationals return to RFK Stadium to play a three-game series against the Braves starting Monday night. The last time these two teams met was in late August with Atlanta taking two out of three games at Turner Field.

On Monday, right-hander Tony Armas, Jr. (8-11, 5.28 ERA) will take the mound for Washington, while right-hander Kyle Davies (2-5, 7.69 ERA) goes to the hill for Atlanta.

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