- The Washington Times - Friday, March 25, 2005

JUPITER, Fla. — Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said he doesn’t expect to make any trades before Opening Day.

Bowden is content with the makeup of the club and is prepared to head north with the Nationals currently in camp.

“We were working on a couple of deals, and the deals that we were working on, the clubs have decided to hold on to their player and not trade the player in both cases, but that doesn’t mean something may not come alive later on,” Bowden said. “Right now on the trade front, I’m not optimistic a deal is going to be made. I think our Opening Day roster at this point is going to come from the guys we have in camp.”

Bowden has shown interest in Cincinnati Reds outfielder Wily Mo Pena and Atlanta Braves infielder Wilson Betemit. Earlier in the week, Bowden dispatched special assistants Bob Boone and Jose Cardenal to scout Betemit, a shortstop who is out of options and would have to clear waivers if Atlanta tried to demote him. Aside from Cristian Guzman, Washington is thin at shortstop.

Betemit improved his chances of making the Braves by hitting two home runs Tuesday off New York Mets veteran Tom Glavine in a game Boone and Cardenal scouted.

Even if Bowden doesn’t make any trades before the April 4 opener in Philadelphia, he likes his roster.

“I don’t think there is any question about it. We’re heading north with the best $50 million club in the National League,” Bowden said. “There’s not another team that has our payroll or less that is going to be able to play with us.”

Roster moves

The Nationals placed outfielder Alex Escobar on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right quadriceps. Escobar, who is competing with J.J. Davis and Ryan Church for the last backup outfield spot, is hitting just .133 in 15 at-bats.

The Nationals also released veteran catcher Keith Osik, who hit .200 in 10 at-bats with one home run this spring. The Nationals roster stands at 31 players.

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