- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 30, 2005

MIAMI — Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said yesterday he does not expect to make any trades of consequence before tomorrow’s 4 p.m. deadline.

“I think at this point it’s unlikely we’re going to be able to do anything significant to help this team win,” Bowden said before last night’s game against the Florida Marlins. “We haven’t found an offer that makes sense. We’re not close to anything.”

Not that Bowden has stopped working the phones in recent days. He continues to talk to his fellow GMs, hoping to find one willing to deal.

But Bowden continues to run into the same dilemma: Do you make a trade to acquire a difference-making player if it requires you to give up someone of equal value to your team? For now, the answer appears to be no.

“For us to make a deal, we’d have to rip our team apart. We’re not going to rip this team apart,” Bowden said. “On July 4, they were on pace to win 100 games and were in first place. We haven’t given up on them because of the last couple of weeks. They’ll come back.”

Bowden delivered that same message to his players during a 15-minute, closed-door meeting before last night’s game. Two days after manager Frank Robinson laid into his players for a lack of energy following its second-straight loss in Atlanta, Bowden gathered everyone again.

The tone this time, though, was a positive one, according to those inside the meeting. Bowden reminded his team how well it played during the first half and that he still believes in it, despite its 3-11 record since the All-Star break going into the weekend.

Robinson seems to be on the same page as his general manager. Much as he would like to see his lineup improved, he believes a major trade on the heels of this prolonged slump would be an overreaction.

“That’s the one thing about this game: You have to have patience,” Robinson said. “It’s so easy to overreact in this game. When you’re going through this, you’re getting it from all sides, everywhere. And you have a tendency to overreact. That’s the worst thing you can do.”

Support for Guillen

Robinson offered up his support for outfielder Jose Guillen, who was accused Thursday by the Braves’ Chipper Jones of committing a “dirty play” by sliding hard into the third baseman.

“No, it was not a dirty slide. It was not a dirty play,” Robinson said. “It was a good, hard-nosed slide.”

Jones clearly thought differently on Thursday. He claimed Guillen went in spikes-up and left a gaping hole through his uniform pants and four pairs of sliding shorts. Guillen immediately asked Jones if he was OK and apologized, and Jones didn’t make a big deal out of the situation until after the game.

Told afterward about Jones’ reaction to the play, Guillen threatened to go in even harder the next time the two clubs play.

Yesterday, Robinson defended his outfielder’s hustle, saying Guillen’s take-out slide was far less intense than his own from his playing days.

“Does Chipper understand where he was?” Robinson said. “[Guillen’s] job is to break up the double play. His foot was six inches off the ground.”

Extra bases

Pitcher Francis Beltran paid a visit to the Nationals’ clubhouse yesterday. Beltran, who is rehabbing from ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow, recently began playing catch again. He won’t be cleared to start throwing off a mound until next spring, 12 months following the procedure. …

Though left field is a mostly foreign position to him, Preston Wilson had to feel slightly at home last night at Dolphins Stadium. The last time Wilson played left field before this week came in 1999, when he was a member of the Marlins.

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