- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 4, 2005

For the second straight game, Jose Guillen, the Washington Nationals’ best hitter, was not in the starting lineup against the wild-card leading Philadelphia Phillies last night.

Neither Nationals manager Frank Robinson nor Guillen offered any tangible reason why.

“Yeah, I didn’t write his name in the lineup, that’s why,” Robinson said.

Said Guillen, who entered in the eighth and finished 0-for-2 with a walk and the game-winning run: “What was the reason for me to not be in the lineup [Friday]? Frank has benched me before. I never get mad. We talk about it.”

Sources close to the situation said Guillen asked to be taken out of the lineup Friday as a result of the new clubhouse rules Robinson instituted following Thursday’s loss in Atlanta. Robinson told the players they no longer would be allowed to listen to music, watch television or play cards or video games in the clubhouse.

Guillen, who leads the team with 24 home runs, 70 RBI and a .303 batting average, would not elaborate.

“Trust me, when I’m not going to play, Frank tells me the day before,” Guillen said. “It had to be something really bad to have me not playing. I’m not playing. Frank is the manager, and he’s the one that makes the lineup.”

Johnson re-injures heel

Nationals first baseman Nick Johnson bruised his right heel trying to beat out a ground ball to first and is listed as day-to-day. It is the same heel Johnson injured June26 when he landed awkwardly on home plate against the Toronto Blue Jays at RFK Stadium. He spent 24 games on the 15-day DL when he initially injured his heel but didn’t think he would be out long this time.

“I’m walking around a lot better than the last time it happened,” Johnson said. “So we’ll see how it feels tomorrow.”

Vidro sits

Second baseman Jose Vidro said before the game he won’t play again until tomorrow at the earliest. Vidro, who left Thursday’s game in Atlanta with inflammation in his right knee, was expected to have an MRI on Friday.

Vidro hasn’t had the MRI because the Nationals’ medical staff wants to see how his knee responded to a cortisone shot Thursday. Nationals team physician Bruce Thomas believes Vidro is suffering from patellar tendinitis.

Pitcher on the way

Right-hander Jon Rauch, who has been on the 60-day disabled list since May25 with a torn right labrum, might be a week away from rejoining the club.

“There’s a chance he may be activated sometime next week if all goes well and there is no setback,” general manager Jim Bowden said.

Rauch went 1-3 with a 4.00 ERA in 18 innings out of the bullpen this season. The 6-foot-11 pitcher can be used as a long reliever or a starter. With left-handed reliever John Halama filling in and Tony Armas Jr. struggling, the Nationals could use another starter, though Bowden likely will call one up from the minors.

“There’s four down there that deserve to come up,” Bowden said, not offering any names. “I know one of the four will be here, and I have to see what happens with everything else right now.”

Casto switching to 2B

The Nationals plan to convert Class A Potomac third baseman Kory Casto into a second baseman during the two-month long Dominican Instructional League that runs from early October to early December. Casto is hitting .288 with 21 home runs, 36 doubles and 88 RBI.

“Every player has a purpose as to why we’re putting them [in the Dominican Instructional League],” Bowden said. “Casto is perfect. We can move him from third to second because [Ryan] Zimmerman is going to be our long-term third baseman. I think it’s going to help his development.”

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