- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 24, 2005

CINCINNATI — Jose Guillen plays with competitive fire. But when the Washington Nationals right fielder starts blaming himself too much for his team’s overall struggles — as Guillen did after Monday night’s 5-3 loss to the Cincinnati Reds — manager Frank Robinson starts worrying.

‘He’s putting too much responsibility on himself, especially with the ballclub not playing as well,’ Robinson said before last night’s game at Great American Ball Park. ‘We have to try to get him to understand that he’s only a part of the lack of offense. He needs to just focus and concentrate on doing what he’s capable of doing.’

Guillen entered last night’s game with only three hits in 17 at-bats during this road trip, and after an 0-for-4, three-strikeout performance Monday night, he was especially hard on himself.

‘I’m sick, sick, sick, sick. I want to throw up,? he said. ‘I don’t think I should be hitting third. I should be hitting ninth, behind the pitcher. Seriously. It makes me sick, the way I’m swinging.?

Guillen may be in a funk at the plate, but Robinson doesn’t want him putting too much pressure on himself to snap out of it. He’s still battling a bruised rib cage that forced him to miss three games last week, and he’s hardly the only Nationals player struggling to hit at the moment.

‘He can’t will Nick Johnson to get on base,’ Robinson said. ‘He can’t will the guys ahead of him to get hits. Don’t try to carry the whole load yourself.’

Patterson still uncertain

Though John Patterson believes he will be ready to start Friday night’s series opener in St. Louis, the Nationals aren’t so sure.

‘I don’t think he’s going to be able to do that,’ Robinson said.

Patterson, who has not pitched since May 15 because of back spasms and now inflammation in his right wrist, played long toss yesterday and plans to throw a bullpen session today. If all goes well, the right-hander believes he can start Friday night at Busch Stadium.

‘That might be pushing it, but that’s the goal right now,’ he said.

It’s been a bizarre couple of days for Patterson, who felt woozy from three injections he got in his back Monday by Cincinnati doctor Tim Kremchek. Patterson was given an IV, but that left his right wrist and forearm inflamed to the point he no longer had any range of motion.

He was feeling better yesterday, but the Nationals weren’t ready to proclaim him their starter for Friday night. If he can’t go, Robinson will start either Tony Armas Jr. or Tomo Ohka.

More injury news

Brad Wilkerson returned to the Nationals’ lineup after missing two games with an irritated nerve in his right forearm. The center fielder has started taking a different medication that the club’s medical staff believes will help reduce the pain and numbness Wilkerson has been dealing with for almost two weeks.

Still, the injury doesn’t figure to go away soon.

‘Honestly, it’s probably going to be nagging for a little bit,’ Wilkerson said. ‘But if we find the right treatment, the right medicine, I think anything can happen. … I hope it works. I’m trying anything and everything right now to get through it.’

Meanwhile, Washington’s training staff believes Zach Day could begin throwing again as soon as today despite taking Ken Griffey Jr.’s line drive off his right wrist during the sixth inning of Monday’s game.

The Nationals feared Day suffered a broken wrist at the time, but X-rays came back negative, and the right-hander had only a bruise.

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