- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 27, 2006

ATLANTA — Earlier in his career, Alex Escobar might have looked toward the heavens every time he got hurt and shouted, “Why me?”

These days, the Washington Nationals outfielder has learned to accept his injuries. It has happened so many times, there’s no sense agonizing over it anymore.

“No, I’m way over that,” he said. “I’m way over that. I’m taking it day by day, and I’m just looking forward to getting back.”

Escobar’s latest calamity — a dislocated right shoulder — might end his promising season with the Nationals. Club officials won’t know the full extent of the injury until Escobar has an MRI tomorrow in Washington, but they’re not expecting to rush him back onto the field.

The play took place in the ninth inning of Friday night’s 7-6 win over the Atlanta Braves, when Escobar went diving back into first base to avoid getting doubled up on Brian Schneider’s lineout to right.

Escobar dived awkwardly and jammed his right hand into the base, popping his shoulder out of the socket. Braves doctors were able to reset it, X-rays showed no fractures and Escobar was able to crack a smile yesterday while walking around with his arm in a sling.

“It doesn’t feel that bad today,” he said. “It’s not an excruciating pain.”

Nevertheless, the Nationals placed Escobar on the 15-day disabled list and purchased the contract of reliever Kevin Gryboski from Class AAA New Orleans.

Escobar can now add “dislocated shoulder” to his growing repertoire of career injuries, a list that includes a fractured back, torn labrum, torn ACL, fractured foot and strained hamstring.

The 27-year-old, who despite the injuries is hitting .356 this season, said he plans to return as soon as he’s given the green light.

“If the doctors say it will be possible, it will be possible,” Escobar said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get it better.”

Soriano goes 200-200

Alfonso Soriano joined the exclusive 200-200 club Friday night when he stole his 200th career base. He already had 203 home runs, making him the 40th player in major league history to reach both milestones.

More impressively, Soriano did it in only 929 games — faster than any other player. Eric Davis, the previous record holder, needed 1,053 games to get there. Soriano’s manager, Frank Robinson, needed 2,591 games.

“It’s quite an accomplishment,” Robinson said.

“I’m so proud of making it so quick,” Soriano said. “I didn’t expect to be a power hitter. It’s not easy to get 200 stolen bases and 200 home runs.”

Cordero OK

Chad Cordero, who was unable to pitch the ninth inning of Friday’s victory because of an ingrown nail on his right big toe, had the problem fixed yesterday and said he believed he could have pitched if called upon.

Cordero had half of the nail removed, as well as the front spike of his right shoe, which was putting pressure on the toe.

Rookie Saul Rivera wound up pitching in Cordero’s place and earned his first career save despite allowing a two-run homer to Ryan Langerhans.

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