- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 14, 2005

Directions to RFK: Driving | Metro

ATLANTA — Jose Guillen is playing like the reincarnation of former Montreal Expos slugger Vladimir Guerrero for the Washington Nationals franchise.

Before last night, Guillen was leading the majors with five home runs after bashing two yesterday against the Atlanta Braves in the Nationals’ 11-4 victory before 19,093 at Turner Field.

Guillen’s bat enabled the Nationals to take two of three games from the Braves and end a winning (5-4) road trip to open their inaugural season.

Now the Nationals are coming home. For the first time in 34 years, the nation’s capital will be the site of a major league game when the Nationals play the Arizona Diamondbacks tonight at sold-out RFK Stadium. The throng of 45,000-plus will include President Bush and numerous other dignitaries.

Nationals manager Frank Robinson issued a public appeal to fans attending tonight’s game at RFK to wear red.

“Tell all the Nationals fans that come out to put their red on,” Robinson said.

Even the president”

“He can wear a red tie if he likes, but I’m not going to tell him what to do, just like I wouldn’t want him to tell me what to do,” Robinson said.

President Bush will become the first Chief Executive to toss out the first ball in the District since April 7, 1969, when Richard Nixon did so to begin the Washington Senators’ first season under manager Ted Williams and last winning season.

“I’m very excited,” Nationals outfielder Brad Wilkerson said. ?It’s going to be good to get it over with because of all the hype and attention we’re going to get, but it’s going to be a fun day for us to open up in Washington in front of a sellout crowd. And everybody is going to have a lot of friends and family there, so it’s going to be a special day.?

As for yesterday, Guillen went 2-for-4 with two homers and four RBI. With the Nationals leading 4-3 in the seventh inning, their cleanup hitter gave the club breathing room when he belted a 407-foot solo blast over the left-field wall.

In the ninth inning, with the Nationals leading 5-4, the 28-year-old Dominican delivered a two-run shot to right-center that traveled 410 feet and extended the Nationals’ lead to 7-4. That triggered a six-run inning and sent Washington into a first-place tie in the National League East with the Braves and Florida Marlins.

“The second one he hit was huge,” Nationals infielder Jamey Carroll said.

Guillen’s heroics enabled the franchise to claim its first series win over the Braves since the Expos swept a three-game set from March 31 through April 3, 2003.

Guillen, who hit 31 and 27 home runs the past two seasons, insists he’s more than just a home run hitter. Recognized throughout his career for having a strong arm, he wants to be known as a complete player.

“They didn’t bring me here to hit home runs; they brought me here to come and help the team win,” he said. “It’s not only to hit home runs but also to do all the little things and play smart. I can do a lot of things besides hitting home runs and throwing people out.”

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