- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 4, 2005

Washington Nationals center fielder Brad Wilkerson suffered another setback with his right arm and was scratched from last night’s starting lineup.

Wilkerson, who leads the National League with 22 doubles, is listed as day-to-day with an inflamed hand, which Wilkerson says is related to the inflammation in his forearm.

“You change your mechanics a little bit to try and deal with the forearm,” Wilkerson said. “[Pain] is starting to get up into my hand. I figure it’s related somehow.”

For the second time in two weeks, the Nationals’ leadoff hitter was missing time because of his right arm. Wilkerson missed the May 22 and 23 games against the Toronto Blue Jays and Cincinnati Reds with the injury.

Ten Nationals are on the disabled list, the most in the majors. Wilkerson, 28, doesn’t believe he will end up on the DL but wouldn’t rule out the possibility.

“I don’t think so,” Wilkerson said. “If I do more damage to it, definitely. As of right now, I’m day-to-day. There’s a risk I could hurt it a little more, but it’s a risk I’m willing to take.”

Marlon Byrd batted in Wilkerson’s leadoff spot and Ryan Church started in center field.

Larkin back in town

Barry Larkin, special assistant to Nationals general manager Jim Bowden, was summoned to the District for the second time this season to work with slumping shortstop Cristian Guzman.

The switch-hitting Guzman, who came into last night’s game batting just .191, will work with Larkin all weekend in an attempt to get his bat going. Guzman was a career .266 hitter entering the season.

“I got word from Jim Bowden,” Larkin said. “I actually passed Cristian my phone number the last time I was here. He told me that he didn’t get it. So, he didn’t call me, and I got on him about it today. Jim told me that Cristian inquired, so I’m here.”

Nationals fans booed Guzman on Tuesday night when he grounded into two inning-ending double plays and popped up a bunt attempt. Guzman, whom the Nationals signed in the offseason to a four-year, $16.8 million deal, is hitting .241 from the left side and .104 from the right.

“He doesn’t have any hits — that’s what he’s doing wrong,” Larkin said. “I don’t think it’s much. I don’t care to critique, I’m just here to help.”

Larkin, a 12-time All-Star shortstop, said he has been busy scouting players and preparing the Nationals for Tuesday’s first-year player draft. Multiple reports have the Nationals wanting to take Virginia third baseman Ryan Zimmerman with the fourth overall pick.

“I think I know who we want to take if he’s there, definitely,” Larkin said.

The Nationals will not pick again until the fourth round because the Colorado Rockies have their second-round pick (for the Vinny Castilla signing) and the Minnesota Twins their third-round pick (for the Guzman signing).

Johnson feels fine

Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson was back in the starting lineup after indigestion forced him out before the eighth inning of Thursday night’s game. Johnson was later diagnosed with acid reflux.

“It was a combination of things,” Johnson said. “I just had a pain in my stomach and I wanted to get it checked out. I took some medication [today] and am ready to go.”

The pain in the stomach was a brief concern to Johnson.

“Nick’s fine — he had some Chinese food,” Bowden said of the Nationals pregame meal. “It’s a scary thing because you think it’s a heart attack. I know what it is. I had it once and thought I was done.”

Arizona signs Vargas

The Arizona Diamondbacks claimed former Nationals right-hander Claudio Vargas off waivers. Vargas went 0-3 with a 9.24 ERA in four starts for the Nationals. His best outing of the season was against the Diamondbacks.


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