- The Washington Times - Monday, August 8, 2005

An MRI late Saturday night revealed Washington Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen has a partial tear of his left rotator cuff.

Guillen will fly to Birmingham, Ala., today to see noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews for a second opinion. If Guillen, 28, needs surgery on his shoulder, he likely will be lost for the remainder of the season.

“I’m going to do what’s best for me, my family and the team,” Guillen said yesterday. “I have a long future ahead of me. … I’ve got to look out for my career and see what’s going to be the best for me.”

General manager Jim Bowden has no intention of placing Guillen on the 15-day disabled list. Guillen, who leads the Nationals with 19 home runs and 58 RBI, will accompany the team on its four-city, 13-game road trip that begins tomorrow in Houston, but it’s unlikely he will play in the first two series against the Astros and Colorado Rockies.

“Knowing him, he’s going to want to play, but we have to get that shoulder to calm down a little bit so we can get his production,” Bowden said. “Having him in there is one thing; having him in there and being productive is another. I don’t want to lose the pennant because we have him on the DL the last four days. That would be pretty dumb.”

Guillen hurt himself June26 against the Toronto Blue Jays at RFK Stadium. In the third inning, his left shoulder dug into the dirt on a head-first slide into home. Guillen was safe on the play and continued to play every day until recently.

The Nationals will prepare for Guillen’s absence by calling up outfielder Brandon Watson from Class AAA New Orleans tomorrow. To clear roster space for Watson, the club designated outfielder Matt Cepicky for assignment yesterday.

Watson, a right fielder who was second in hitting in the Pacific Coast League at .357 before last night, might lead off for the Nationals in place of Brad Wilkerson. He was promoted from Class AA Harrisburg on May15 and reached base safely in his first 41 games with the Zephyrs — the longest on-base streak in team history.

“This guy has had a great year, and what’s been impressive is that he hits a lot of balls in the sweet spot,” Bowden said. “He’s not a slap-and-judy hitter like people think. This guy hits the ball, and he’s hit all year. He hasn’t stopped hitting, and he gets on base and has great speed.”

Nats sign 16-year-old

Frank Cruz, a 16-year-old shortstop from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, signed with the Nationals on Saturday, according to Ismael Cruz (no relation), the Nationals director of Latin American scouting and player development.

Frank Cruz has drawn physical comparisons to Tampa Bay Devil Rays shortstop B.J. Upton. Bowden, however, said the Nationals consider Cruz the equivalent of a third-round draft pick.

“He has good defense, a good arm, a switch hitter,” Ismael Cruz said. “He’s ours to take care of. We just have to develop him, mold him into a player that we want. Right now, he’s with our club in the Dominican. He’ll be there until the [Gulf Coast League] starts next year or spring training starts, and our plans are to bring him up right away. Let him experience the U.S. kind of baseball right away.”

Schneider sits again

Catcher Brian Schneider missed his fifth straight game with what has been diagnosed as bursitis in his right shoulder.

“He’s not OK to go. He can play, but he’s not OK,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

The Nationals certainly could use Schneider, who is hitting .284 with seven home runs and 30 RBI.

“I would hope [he would be back] by Tuesday,” Robinson said. “I guess that’s the same thing as expect, but I think it’s a little bit less of a sure thing when you hope. When you expect it, then it’s pretty close to being certain. I hope he will be.”

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