The Washington Nationals designated veteran first baseman Wil Cordero for assignment and claimed outfielder Kenny Kelly off waivers from the Cincinnati Reds yesterday.
Meanwhile, Barry Larkin, a special assistant to general manager Jim Bowden, said on Sporting News Radio he was considering ending his retirement to play shortstop for the rest of the season.
The Cordero move was no surprise considering he was 0-for-14 as a pinch hitter and 0-for-18 with runners in scoring position this season. Cordero, 33, underwent knee surgery after the Nationals’ third game and missed 48 games.
Cordero, who batted .118 overall (6-for-51), would not use his knee problem as an excuse.
“The bottom line is that I’m hitting one-something,” he said. “It has nothing to do with my knee. It had something to do with my bat.”
The Nationals’ pickup of Kelly was a mild surprise because they are loaded with outfielders. The 6-foot-2 Kelly is better known for football; he was the University of Miami’s starting quarterback in 1999 and led the Big East in passing yards a game (212.6).
Kelly, 26, is the Nationals’ sixth outfielder and adds speed to the club. Asked what he knew about him, Nationals manager Frank Robinson replied, “Heck of a quarterback.”
Kelly appeared in seven games with the Reds and was 3-for-9 with two RBI. Kelly opened the season at Class AAA Louisville of the International league and batted .326 with nine doubles, four triples, three home runs, 17 RBI and 18 stolen bases in 22 attempts. He was the Tampa Bay Devil Rays’ second-round pick in the 1997 draft.
The Nationals outrighted left-handed reliever Joe Horgan and right-handed reliever Jacobo Sequea to Class AAA New Orleans and Class AA Harrisburg, respectively, to create room on their 40-man roster.
Prospective addition Larkin, a 12-time All-Star during 19 seasons with Cincinnati, is a favorite of Bowden, a former GM of the Reds.
“He asked me to help the team, and I told him earlier in the season that if he were in dire straits that I would do what I could do,” Larkin said. “I can’t answer if I’m going to play or not. I’ve got three kids I’ve got to talk to, three young bosses and one wife — the real boss I’ve got to talk to — and get their blessing on that whole situation.
“I told Jim, though, I definitely would like to spend time up there and help out as a player or as someone that could help out in the clubhouse, on the bench. I’m associated with the organization. It’s just a matter of what capacity to help out in.”
Bowden has tried to lure Larkin out of retirement since spring training. With shortstop Cristian Guzman benched and hitting .189, the first-place Nationals have a crisis at the position. Larkin, a career .295 hitter, is 41 but is working out and keeping himself in shape.
The club has received no indication that Larkin is coming back, but officials believe there is at least a 50-50 chance he will do so.
Stanton reaches 1,000
Left-handed reliever Mike Stanton became just the 10th pitcher in baseball history to appear in 1,000 games when he entered in the ninth inning against the Colorado Rockies last night. Stanton is just two appearances shy of tying Rich “Goose” Gossage for ninth on the all-time list.
Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson could be just a few days away from coming off the 15-day disabled list. Johnson, who is hitting .320 with eight home runs and 42 RBI, took batting practice and grounders yesterday but did not run on his injured right heel.
Johnson is not setting a timetable for his return but is encouraged by being able to perform baseball-related activities for the first time without pain. Johnson said he will try to run sometime over the next two days.
“I’m going to do a little more tomorrow. I still haven’t ran, but everything is fine, doable,” Johnson said. “If I can do those things that I did today, then it’s fine.”
A company that says it owns the trademark rights to the name “Washington Nationals” answered a lawsuit brought by Major League Baseball with countercharges of its own.
Bygone Sports LLC said it filed papers in U.S. District Court in Manhattan challenging claims brought last month by Major League Baseball Properties Inc. and Baseball Expos L.P. The sport and team asked the court to declare the trademark does not belong to the company because its sole purpose in filing for a trademark was to capitalize on the naming of the new baseball team, formerly the Montreal Expos.
Bygone Sports asked the court to block the retailing arm of Major League Baseball from using the Washington Nationals trademark in any way that interferes with the use of it by Bygone. It also sought unspecified damages and an accounting of all sales and profits obtained by Major League Baseball by using the name.
Staff writer Mark Zuckerman and the Associated Press contributed to this article.