- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

VIERA, Fla. — Jim Bowden’s tenure with the Washington Nationals continues, six months at a time.

The Nationals gave Bowden a contract extension yesterday for the third time since he was hired in November 2004. This deal will keep the general manager in Washington through the 2006 season, though as always a new owner would have the option of making a change at any point and eating the rest of Bowden’s salary.

Club president Tony Tavares, though, gave his full endorsement for Bowden after announcing yesterday’s deal.

“I think that any new owner coming in here is crazy to try and change a general manager in the middle of a season,” Tavares said. “To be disappointed this quick, there would clearly be something wrong with the new owner.”

Assistant GM Tony Siegle, who has been with the club since Major League Baseball purchased the Montreal Expos in 2002, also had his contract extended through the rest of the season.

Bowden, who turns 45 in May, did not return phone calls seeking comment. He signed a six-month extension last spring, then another last October. His latest contract was due to expire April 30, and though new ownership could be named before then, Tavares said it made sense to make the move now.

“I had no hesitation moving forward,” he said. “I had actually been talking about this for some time. … I put all my rationale together of why I thought it made sense to keep a GM here through the season. And [Major League Baseball president] Bob DuPuy was the one to get back to me and said, ‘Yep, fine. Go ahead, lock it in.’”

Roster reduced by 13

Just as Bowden promised on Wednesday, the Nationals made their first round of cuts yesterday, trimming the spring roster from 69 to 56.

Two players off the 40-man roster were optioned to the minors: first baseman Larry Broadway (Class AAA New Orleans) and left-hander Mike Hinckley (Class A Potomac).

Eleven non-roster spring invitees were reassigned to Washington’s minor-league camp: right-handers Andrew Good and Francis Beltran; left-handers Mike Bacsik, Micah Bowie and Jim Crowell; catcher Erick San Pedro; infielders Josh Labandeira and Kory Casto; and outfielders Frank Diaz, Ruben Mateo and Cristian Guerrero.

The moves came one day after Bowden said he had been “embarrassed” by the Nationals’ sloppy play in recent days, a product of all the minor-leaguers who had been getting significant playing time.

“We have to start focusing on the guys who have a chance to make this ballclub,” manager Frank Robinson said.

Broadway’s demotion, according to Bowden, was not a product of poor performance this spring. Rather, the club wants him to get plenty of at-bats as he prepares to be New Orleans’ everyday first baseman.

The 25-year-old had a difficult 2005 season while battling a knee injury, but the organization still views him as an important part of its future, and Bowden said he wouldn’t hesitate to call him up this season if starting first baseman Nick Johnson gets hurt.

“Larry’s a guy that can help us this year,” Bowden said. “I want him down there playing every day and getting his at-bats, because he’s going to be a good player. He’s made a lot of progress.”

Hinckley, too, struggled in 2005 after being named the organization’s minor-league pitcher of the year the previous season. Though he’s being assigned to Potomac at this point, Bowden said the 23-year-old (who is coming off shoulder surgery) will likely earn a quick promotion to Class AA Harrisburg.

“When I took this job, I had more calls on Hinckley than anyone else in this organization,” Bowden said. “We just have to get him healthy and back to that, and when we do, we’ll all be happier. We certainly could use a left-handed starting pitcher.”

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the http://www.washingtontimes.com/sports>Sports Page

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