- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 25, 2005

Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson said he wasn’t raising the white flag on the 2005 season, but he has decided to rest many regulars for the last seven games of the season.

Last night’s lineup at RFK Stadium against the New York Mets included rookies Brandon Watson, Tony Blanco and Ryan Zimmerman, as well as backup catcher Gary Bennett and outfielder Marlon Byrd.

Unless circumstances change, don’t expect to see much of third baseman Vinny Castilla, first baseman Nick Johnson, catcher Brian Schneider, second baseman Jose Vidro and outfielder Jose Guillen during the final week of the season, as well as possibly outfielder Brad Wilkerson, all of whom are nursing injuries they accumulated throughout the year.

“My preference is to let these guys have the rest of the year off,” Robinson said. “If they say upstairs to me we would like to see these guys play some of these games we have left, then they play. But if I would like to continue to get a look at some of these players we haven’t seen a lot of, and also these guys have beaten themselves up pretty good over the course of the year for me, and I’d just like to say, ‘That’s enough.’”

Robinson insisted, though, that he still expects his team to compete and aims for it to finish the season over .500. The Nationals entered last night’s game with a 78-76 record, meaning they would have to win four of their last eight games, including last night’s contest, to finish 82-80 — a 15-game improvement over last season’s mark in Montreal.

“We’ve had a good year, a tremendous first half,” Robinson said. “But we know we didn’t finish it off. If we fall below .500, so be it. But we are going to try to avoid that. I’d like to see this ballclub win 80 to 82 ballgames. We are going to try to do that. We are not giving up trying to win just because we are putting different guys out there.”

Robinson also said closer Chad Cordero, with his league-leading 47 saves, probably will not be used again.

“Cordero is as close as anyone out there to not picking up a ball,” Robinson said. “If he was at 49 saves, I would try to get him a chance to get 50. But with 47 saves, I don’t want to take a chance of getting three saves for him. That is a kid who I am a little concerned about the workload. My feeling is that he won’t pitch again.”

Short operation

Veteran minor leaguer and rookie Rick Short is out for the season.

Short, who suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder Friday during a 5-2 loss to the Mets, will have surgery on the shoulder today.

Short’s shoulder has popped out and back in a few times this season, but this time it was worse.

Dr. Wiemi Douoghui, who is scheduled to perform the surgery at Washington Hospital Center, said Short will be out about six months.

The season-ending injury is a tough blow for the 32-year-old career minor leaguer who gained national attention by flirting with a .400 batting average at Class AAA New Orleans for much of the season. He won the Pacific Coast League batting title at .383 and hit .400 in 15 at-bats since his Sept.2 call-up.

Before he got the news about the operation, Short tried to remain optimistic.

“I had go to through a lot of things in my career, so I can get through this,” he said. “I worked hard to get here, but the short time I got to play, I think it went as well as it could have. I made some plays on the field and got some hits. I don’t know if I made a lasting impression or not, but I think they know what kind of player I am.”

Robinson and the Nationals know he can hit, but there are still questions about his defense.

“It is too bad,” Robinson said. “I really wanted to get a good look at him the last week here. He was going to have a program over the winter where he was going to work on his defense.”

Guillen drops appeal

Guillen dropped the appeal of his one-game suspension for throwing equipment on the field after his ejection in the fifth inning of the Nationals’ 6-3 win Sept.14 at Shea Stadium.

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