- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 29, 2005

MIAMI — Washington Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro left the club yesterday to have his right knee examined by Cincinnati doctor Tim Kremchek.

He’s expected to rejoin the team in Washington for this weekend’s season-ending series against the Philadelphia Phillies, but his availability for those games is uncertain.

Vidro, who has been plagued by this injury for the better part of three years, has not been in the Nationals’ starting lineup since Sept. 21, though he has made five pinch-hitting appearances since then.

It’s unclear what steps the club might take if Kremchek’s examination reveals more damage to Vidro’s knee. He underwent surgery a year ago to repair his patellar tendon, then spent all winter trying to rehab and get himself ready for spring training.

Though the bulk of the time he has missed this season stems from a torn ankle tendon and strained quadriceps, Vidro’s lingering knee issues didn’t help matters.

A lifetime .302 hitter, he’s batting just .275 in 87 games this season with seven homers and 32 RBI — well below his typical numbers.

Vidro, 31, has spoken about wanting to get himself back in shape this winter in an effort to return to his old form in 2006. Manager Frank Robinson said he will need not only to repair his knee but to get his entire body in shape.

Byrd muddies picture

With a four-hit, four-run game Tuesday night, Marlon Byrd sent a reminder to the Nationals that he should be in the mix for an outfield job next season.

Sent to the minors July 31 when he was struggling mightily at the plate, Byrd has come back with a vengeance. Entering last night’s game, he was hitting .306 with two homers, nine RBI and six doubles over his last 19 games.

Byrd, who was upset about his demotion at the time, has realized since he needed to work on some things in the minors and is glad he’s putting it into action now that he’s back with the Nationals.

“No doubt, I have something to prove, to myself and to this organization, that I can play,” he said. “When I did it at Triple-A it didn’t mean much, because I’ve already done that three times. I had to come back up here and show that I can hit big-league pitching.”

Between Byrd, Ryan Church, Brad Wilkerson, Jose Guillen and Terrmel Sledge (who has missed nearly the entire season with a torn hamstring), Washington has a surplus of outfielders on its hands this offseason.

One or more of those players, though, could be packaged in a trade to fill some other need on the club.

“I wouldn’t expect that you’ll see all of those guys here,” Robinson said. “Maybe in spring training, but you wouldn’t start the season with all of them.”

Extra bases

Pitcher Tony Armas Jr. underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right shoulder yesterday in Cincinnati. Armas, a pending free agent, won’t be allowed to start throwing again for six to eight weeks. …

Rookie third baseman Ryan Zimmerman celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday. Zimmerman, the youngest player on the Nationals’ roster, will be taking two weeks off after the season before leaving for the Arizona Fall League.

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