- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 11, 2006

HOUSTON — Though Washington Nationals manager Frank Robinson served his one-game suspension yesterday, reliever Felix Rodriguez decided to appeal his three-game penalty for throwing at New York Mets catcher Paul Lo Duca.

“Like I told you guys before, we try to pitch inside,” said Rodriguez, whose punishment wasn’t expected to begin until tomorrow. “I don’t think we throw at anybody.”

Rodriguez was caught up in the heated beanball war that escalated between the Nationals and Mets on Thursday. In a game that saw four Washington hitters hit, Rodriguez (along with Robinson) was ejected for hitting Lo Duca after umpires issued a warning when Jose Guillen charged Pedro Martinez on the mound.

League rules that Robinson helped write during his time working for Major League Baseball require pitchers in these situations to serve a three-game suspension and managers a one-game suspension. Though it would appear that little can come out of Rodriguez’s appeal, Robinson said it’s worth it if the pitcher wants to make sure his side of the story is heard.

The appeal also keeps Rodriguez in the Nationals’ bullpen for the start of their home-opening series against the Mets. The three-game set promises to be emotionally charged, especially with Martinez starting tomorrow, but Rodriguez said that had nothing to do with his decision to appeal.

“It’s not about the Mets,” he said. “I want to pitch in every game against every team.”

Though Guillen was in the middle of Thursday night’s fracas, he avoided suspension from MLB disciplinarian Bob Watson. Guillen was fined, however, as were Robinson and Rodriguez.

Guillen has made no secret about his feelings for Martinez and has suggested he will take matters into his own hands again if the Mets ace hits him for the sixth time in his career.

Robinson said he plans to talk to his entire team before the New York series to make sure everyone’s aware of the consequences of any more extracurricular activity.

“He’ll listen to anything I tell him, but I don’t know how he’ll react,” Robinson said. “I can’t guarantee he won’t react to something on the field.”

Injury update

Cristian Guzman, out for more than a month with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, still is hoping to avoid season-ending surgery. But general manager Jim Bowden said the club is running out of time to make a decision on the shortstop.

Guzman will continue to throw and hit off a tee for the next week or so, hoping to build up muscle around the shoulder tear. If he isn’t ready to play by then, though, Bowden said the team will opt for surgery.

Meanwhile, utilityman Robert Fick continues to rehab after undergoing surgery last month to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Though the Nationals believed Fick’s return would be quick at the time of the surgery, Bowden indicated he’s still far from being able to play in a major league game.

Once Fick does come back, Washington faces a difficult roster decision, with veteran bench player Daryle Ward among those whose job could be in jeopardy.

Extra bases

Alfonso Soriano made perhaps his best defensive play of the season in left field in the seventh inning yesterday, sprinting to his left to catch Willy Taveras’ hard liner before tumbling to the ground. …

Ward’s pinch-hit home run in the 10th inning was the franchise’s first in extra innings since the Montreal Expos’ Wallace Johnson hit a two-run homer in the 11th inning at San Francisco on May 20, 1990. …

Jose Vidro has hit safely in all seven of the Nationals’ games this season after going 3-for-5 yesterday.

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