- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2005

PHOENIX — There is a consensus around the Washington Nationals organization that Jamey Carroll doesn’t have what it takes to be a productive everyday player. So far Carroll seems to be proving the skeptics wrong. And now he has a chance to prove it over the long haul.

The Nationals placed Jose Vidro on the 15-day disabled list before last night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, making the diminutive Carroll their regular second baseman for the foreseeable future.

The club had been hoping to wait before making a decision on Vidro, who sustained a high and lateral left ankle sprain sliding into home plate Wednesday night in Los Angeles. But over the past few days, it became obvious the veteran second baseman was going to need time to heal, so Washington chose to place him on the DL now and activate right-hander Tony Armas Jr., who will make his season debut tonight after missing nearly two months with a groin pull.

Because the move is retroactive to the last day Vidro played, he will be eligible to come off the DL on May 20. Until then, Carroll will remain in the lineup, trying to prove his recent performance at the plate is no fluke. The 5-foot-9, 170-pounder entered last night’s game with a .438 batting average (.615 since he took over for Vidro four days ago).

“Actually, I’ve just been fortunate lately,” said Carroll, who matched his career high with four hits Sunday against the San Francisco Giants. “My last at-bat, I finally got a ball on the barrel. I’ve just been fortunate.”

Fortunate or just well-prepared? Even Carroll’s biggest critics rave about his ability to study the game and be ready for any situation. Which is why Nationals manager Frank Robinson hasn’t been surprised by Carroll’s play.

“You tell people about Jamey Carroll, about how valuable he is to this ballclub, and you don’t see it until he goes out there for kind of a period of time,” Robinson said. “He helps the ballclub. He knows how to play the game. … He knows how to keep himself ready.”

It takes a certain type of ballplayer to be able to produce off the bench. You must be willing to sit around for days at a time without getting so much as a pinch-hit at-bat, then spring into action the moment someone goes down.

During his 21/2 seasons with the franchise, Carroll has shown an uncanny ability to do just that. And while there may be some temptation on his part to insist he deserves to be a full-time starter, he never has approached Robinson and asked for more playing time.

“Hey, I understand my role,” Carroll said. “You have to go out there and work like you’re going to be playing. If you don’t, then when a situation like this happens, you won’t be prepared for it.”

Mayor changes course

District Mayor Anthony A. Williams today will recommend to the D.C. Council using debt financing from German financial giant Deutsche Bank to help finance the Nationals’ planned stadium in Southeast, a move that brings the mayor into agreement with much of the council.

Williams’ staffers had been working on an alternative financing structure that still relied heavily on public financing. To that end, the administration is still pursuing some minor modifications to the Deutsche Bank proposal of private financing for the ballpark.

But the mayor’s recommendation of Deutsche reflects an acquiescence to the political reality surrounding the financing: The votes were not sufficient to veer strongly from that course.

Extra bases

Right-hander Claudio Vargas, out since spring training with a sprained elbow, has rejoined the Nationals and likely will be activated before tomorrow night’s game. The club has not settled on a corresponding move yet, but the likely candidate for demotion is outfielder Endy Chavez, barring a surprise move involving slumping pitcher Zach Day or Tomo Ohka. …

The Nationals formally announced their season-long promotions schedule for home games at RFK Stadium. For now, the club has planned only four giveaways: floppy hats June 25, umbrellas July 21, six-pack coolers Aug. 5 and team photos and early-bird 2006 schedules Oct. 1.

Staff writer Eric Fisher contributed to this article.

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