- The Washington Times - Saturday, August 6, 2005

Washington Nationals slugger Jose Guillen was not in the lineup last night because of a troublesome left shoulder.

Guillen was supposed to have an MRI taken yesterday morning, but when team trainer Tim Abraham and Guillen arrived at the hospital, they were told the machine was broken.

Sometime during the next few days, Guillen will have an MRI taken. With the Nationals about to embark on their longest road trip of the season — a four city, 13-game tour beginning Tuesday in Houston — it also was uncertain whether Guillen would accompany the Nationals.

Guillen, who has been out of the lineup for two of the Nationals’ past three games, went 0-for-4 Friday night against the San Diego Padres. He struck out twice and popped out twice on soft fly balls to the right side.

Following Friday’s game, Guillen told reporters his shoulder felt “dead” and hinted that he might be out for a while. Rookie Ryan Church started in right field last night for Guillen.

Guillen leads the Nationals’ weak offense in home runs (19) and RBI (58). He has battled a variety of physical problems this season, including a swollen left ankle and a sore rib cage.

Guillen injured his left shoulder June26 at RFK Stadium against the Toronto Blue Jays. Over the past three weeks, it has given him more trouble. After a loss to the Astros on July21, he received a cortisone injection.

The injury has affected Guillen’s swing. After hitting well over .300 for most of the season, he has dropped to .296.

Closed-door meeting

The Nationals held a closed-door team meeting for one hour and 40 minutes — and didn’t take batting practice — before last night’s game.

Manager Frank Robinson called the session a chance to “clear the air.” He said he wanted the players to say whatever they wanted to whomever they wanted.

“It was a good meeting. It was a positive, good meeting, and good points were made,” Robinson said.

Coming into last night’s game, the Nationals had won just five of their last 17 games. Pitcher Livan Hernandez created a spectacle Friday night when he threw his glove, warmup jacket and cap into the stands after Robinson removed him with two out in the sixth inning of a 6-5 loss.

Hernandez said after the game that he had been handing out souvenirs.

“I don’t want to say what we talked about because it’s supposed to stay with us,” third baseman Vinny Castilla said. “It’s called a team meeting. We have to regroup and start playing better.”

Buford out

Nationals first base coach Don Buford was out of commission for last night’s game. Buford, who is suffering from chronic leg problems, received an injection in his back to alleviate the pain in his legs. Tom McCraw, the Nationals’ hitting coach, took over the 68-year-old Buford’s first-base coaching duties.

Schneider available

Catcher Brian Schneider sat out of a fourth straight game with bursitis in his right shoulder. Schneider said before last night’s game that his shoulder feels much better and that he is ready whenever Robinson wants to reinsert him into the lineup.

“I came in today and the lineup was already up, and Frank and his staff don’t want to push it because there is an important stretch coming up in the next couple of weeks,” said Schneider, who is hitting .284. “They’re looking out for me, which I appreciate. I haven’t hit live or [batting practice] or anything, but I’ve done a lot in the cage and it feels good. I threw today and I threw long and threw hard.”

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