- The Washington Times - Monday, October 3, 2005

Among the impending free agents for the Washington Nationals, pitchers Esteban Loaiza and Hector Carrasco are the club’s top offseason priorities.

General manager Jim Bowden, who is under contract until Oct.31, would rather wait until the Nationals have a new owner before signing the pitchers. However, if a solid deal presents itself for either right-hander, Bowden said he will go forward.

“There’s some personnel decisions that if we have opportunities to do certain decisions, we’ll make them now if we don’t think the opportunity is going to be there, say, two weeks from now when an ownership group is in place,” Bowden said. “We’re going to make decisions based on what we think they would want. [Loaiza and Carrasco] are one-two on our list.”

Loaiza, who was 12-10 with a 3.77 ERA in 34 starts this season, signed a $2.9million, one-year deal last offseason with a mutual option for next season. Loaiza’s option means he can accept another $2.9million for next season or reject it.

Carrasco, who began the season in the minors, was elevated into the Nationals rotation late in the season after injuries and poor performances by various minor-league callups. Carrasco, who lost yesterday’s season finale, went 5-4 with a 2.04 ERA, mostly coming out of the bullpen.

Bowden signed Carrasco, who turns 36 at the end of the month, to the league minimum last December, and it sounds like re-signing him won’t be a problem.

“I’m not worried about money like everyone does now,” Carrasco said. “I’m not like that. I want to come back here, I like it here.”

No surgery for Vidro

Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro received good news yesterday during halftime of the Washington Redskins’ 20-17 overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks at FedEx Field: surgery on his right knee won’t be necessary.

Noted orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews examined Vidro in the Redskins’ training room and said rest and a specialized exercise regimen are all the three-time All-Star needs to alleviate the chronic pain in his knee.

“He’s going to rest until Oct.10 — about one week — and then he’ll be on three weeks of the exercise program and then be evaluated in D.C. by Dr. [Wiemi] Douoguih,” said Dr. Bruce Thomas, the Nationals’ primary care physician. “The ball is in Jose’s court. I’m actually going down to Puerto Rico this week to help select a personal trainer to work with him.”

Vidro arguably had the worst season of his career, batting .275 with seven home runs and 32 RBI. He entered this season as a career .304 hitter.

Vidro missed 54 games this season — from May5 to July5 — with a torn left-ankle tendon suffered while sliding into home at Dodger Stadium.

“If I come back [to D.C.] with problems, then I’m going to do a surgery,” Vidro said. “One reason why my knee hurts so much right now is because my quads are weak and all the pressure is going directly to my knee.”

Short’s recovery

A week after underdoing shoulder surgery, utility infielder Rick Short said he should be fine by spring training in mid-February.

“Absolutely, there’s no doubt about it,” said Short, who had his torn left labrum repaired. “Right now, I’m pretty much well ahead of schedule.”

Short, 32, said he initially injured his left shoulder while playing at Class AAA New Orleans and then aggravated it diving for a ball Sept.24 against the New York Mets.

Extra bases

The Nationals set a franchise record for fewest errors with 91 this season. The previous mark was 99 by the 2004 Montreal Expos. … Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman couldn’t protect his .220 batting average in yesterday’s season finale. After Guzman told manager Frank Robinson he didn’t want to play and Robinson obliged by starting Deivi Cruz at short, Robinson used Guzman as a pinch-hitter for reliever Jon Rauch in the seventh inning. Guzman stayed in the game and went 0-for-2, dropping his average to .219. It’s the lowest mark of his seven-year career.

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