- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 5, 2005

Second baseman Jose Vidro could be activated from the disabled list as early as today.

Vidro, out since May9 after tearing a left ankle tendon sliding into home five days earlier, played the fifth game of his rehabilitation assignment at Class A Potomac last night. He was the designated hitter the first three games and the second baseman Sunday. However, he did not have a fielding chance that night.

“I was like, ‘Man, what’s going on’” said Vidro, who played second again last night. “I do feel good. I ran the bases a lot. I scored from first on an inside-the-park home run. I’ve scored from first, I’ve scored from second, I got a double, so it was a very good day for me. Hopefully, I’ll be back on the team [today].”

At the time of his injury, Vidro was hitting .290 with four home runs and 15 RBI in 28 games. Junior Spivey and Jamey Carroll have filled in during Vidro’s absence.

“Vidro may be [back] as early as tomorrow. We’ll see how he does tonight,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said yesterday. “He did phenomenal yesterday.”

Vidro had two hits in 10 at-bats with a double, three RBI and three runs during his rehab assignment before last night’s game against Myrtle Beach.

Church’s return

Outfielder Ryan Church took 45 pain-free swings in the batting cage before yesterday’s game and could return Thursday — the first day he is eligible to leave the DL.

It was the first time Church performed any baseball-related activities without pain since he injured his right collarbone after crashing into a wall in Pittsburgh on June22.

“I felt good actually. I got out and threw a little bit on the field, felt a lot better and loosened up,” Church said. “I was able to throw the ball with something on it. [Today] was a turn for the best.”

Church, who has a team-high .325 batting average with seven home runs and 28 RBI, said he will do a normal pregame regimen — full batting practice, long-toss throwing and some running — before tonight’s game.

“I’m on my way back,” Church said. “I just want to get in there.”

The 44th man

Matt Cepicky, who pinch-hit in the seventh inning yesterday, became the 44th player to appear in a game this season for the Nationals — the most in the majors.

Cepicky, who spent parts of the last three seasons with the Montreal Expos, was called up from Class AAA New Orleans yesterday.

Cepicky was hitting .274 with 14 home runs and 58 RBI for the Zephyrs.

In 69 major league games, Cepicky is a career .218 hitter with four home runs and 18 RBI.

Cepicky is determined to make this stint in the majors different from the rest.

“I just need to not worry about anything else but playing baseball and helping out the team,” Cepicky said. “In the past, I’ve let things affect me as far as ‘glad to be here’ and trying too hard, so to speak. I just want to have fun, and everybody else is having fun here because they are winning games.”

Extra bases

Mildred Smith Bowden, general manager Jim Bowden’s grandmother, died yesterday at age 97 in Bar Harbor, Maine. Bowden will miss the upcoming weekend series at Philadelphia to attend services. … Third baseman Vinny Castilla celebrated his 38th birthday by going 1-for-4 with a double and a run scored.

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