- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 23, 2005

SEEN AND HEARD

VIERA, Fla.

Barry Larkin played 19 straight seasons at shortstop for the Cincinnati Reds. Why would he put on a Washington Nationals jersey?

Larkin, 40, turned up yesterday at the Nationals’ first full-squad workout. Interim general manager Jim Bowden would have liked to sign Larkin as a player this year, but the potential Hall of Famer decided to retire instead and accept a job as one of Bowden’s assistants.

“Putting on a different uniform as a player was something I wasn’t sure about,” Larkin said. “If I felt 100 percent comfortable in doing that, then I would be here playing. The point is, I couldn’t make that 100 percent commitment as a player. So, I didn’t feel I could play under those parameters.”

Larkin, who has aspirations of managing, said he’s with the Nationals to help where he can, though his job responsibilities are not defined. “I’ve got a lot of knowledge. If guys are willing or want to use what I have, or learn from me, I’m willing to do that,” he said. …

With so much else going on around baseball (steroids, the Yankees, the A-Rod/Red Sox cat fight), there hasn’t been much national attention on the Nationals. The rest of the country is starting to catch on, though.

Sports Illustrated was considering running the Nats on this week’s cover, but the story has been pushed back until next week because of the Daytona 500. A handful of national newspaper reporters have found their way to Viera in recent days, and today “Good Morning America” host Charles Gibson will be in town. Gibson apparently will don a Nats uniform and take batting practice with the club for a piece that will air sometime down the road.

And, hey, the way Bowden’s been signing players left and right, maybe Gibson can even play his way into a contract.

THE BUZZ

Up ” Autograph seekers

There may not be a better camp in Florida to get close to players.

Down ” Francis Beltran

Right-hander’s bum elbow could keep him on the shelf for a while.

Sideways ” Latin rap

Livan Hernandez has taken over the clubhouse stereo (for better or worse).

Up ” Cincinnati influence

Bowden, Jose Rijo, Larkin, Bob Boone … good thing Pete Rose is banned from baseball.

BY THE NUMBERS

70

Combined home runs in 2004 by holdovers Endy Chavez, Nick Johnson, Brian Schneider, Jose Vidro and Brad Wilkerson.

62

Combined homers in 2004 by newcomers Vinny Castilla and Jose Guillen.

OVERHEARD

“I didn’t want to go into the clubhouse today in uniform. And that felt a little weird.”

— Retired Reds shortstop Barry Larkin, on his first day at camp as an assistant to GM Jim Bowden.

NATIONALS’ SCHEDULE

TODAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

TOMORROW: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

FRIDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

SATURDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

SUNDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

MONDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

TUESDAY: Full-squad workout, 9 a.m.

MARCH 2: First exhibition game, vs. Mets, 1 p.m.

How to Get to Space Coast Stadium

From Orlando/North: Take Rte. 528 East (Bee Line Expressway) 25 miles to I-95 South. Exit I-95 South at Fiske Blvd. (Exit 195). Proceed south on Fiske Blvd./Stadium Parkway to the stadium. Approx. time: 45 minutes.

From Melbourne/South: Take I-95 North to Wickham Rd. (Exit 191) and turn left. Turn right on Lake Andrew Dr. and follow to the stadium. Approx. time: 20 minutes.

TODAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Partly cloudy, 46 degrees

Viera: Partly cloudy, 79 degrees.

Mark Zuckerman and Ken Wright


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