Thursday, April 20, 2006

PHILADELPHIA — Washington Nationals general manager Jim Bowden returned to his RFK Stadium office yesterday, attempting to get back to work two days after his DUI arrest in Miami Beach, Fla.

Nationals manager Frank Robinson spoke with Bowden over the phone for about 10 minutes, spending only a few minutes discussing the recent incident before shifting to baseball matters.

“I just called him to touch base with him, reach out to him,” Robinson said before last night’s game against the Philadelphia Phillies. “I was very brief on the situation, and then I turned to [Tuesday night’s 10-3 victory] intentionally. He kind of perked up a little bit there.”

Bowden did not return phone messages yesterday. On Tuesday, he acknowledged his arrest in a press release and said he plans to plead not guilty to the DUI charges.

According to police reports, Bowden was pulled over by officers at 2:20 a.m. Monday after running a stop sign in Miami Beach. He failed a field sobriety test and then refused to take a breath-alcohol test, resulting in an automatic suspension of his California-issued driver’s license. His fiancee, Joy Browning, also was charged with resisting arrest and battery.

Club president Tony Tavares said no action would be taken until Bowden’s case is resolved.

Bowden, who was staying in Miami while the Nationals faced the Florida Marlins over the weekend, remained there Tuesday for a preplanned scouting trip. He returned to Washington yesterday, though, and reportedly was in good spirits.

“As well as he could be under the circumstances,” Robinson said. “He’s not down in the dumps or whatever. He’s still operating in the office. But he’s just like anyone else who’s going through what he’s going through right now. He’s not as excited as he normally would be. But he sounded pretty good to me.”

Traber gets the call

The Nationals promoted pitcher Billy Traber from Class AAA New Orleans following last night’s game and officially named the left-hander to start tonight’s series finale against the Phillies.

Traber, 26, went 0-0 with a 2.45 ERA in two starts at New Orleans, striking out 16 with only two walks in 11 innings. Earlier, he impressed the Nationals with a 2.25 spring training ERA.

The former first-round pick of the New York Mets will be making his first major league appearance since 2003 with the Cleveland Indians. He underwent elbow ligament replacement surgery that fall and has been working his way back since.

Traber takes the rotation spot previously held by Ryan Drese, who injured his right elbow during his last start Friday and has been placed on the 15-day disabled list.

Injury updates

Shortstop Cristian Guzman, out since early March with a partially torn labrum in his right shoulder, is expected to return to Viera, Fla., in the next few days to continue his rehabilitation at the Nationals’ extended spring training.

Guzman has been hitting and throwing well, according to Robinson, and for now looks like he won’t need season-ending surgery.

Utilityman Robert Fick, meanwhile, went 0-for-4 Tuesday in the first game of his rehab assignment with Class AA Harrisburg. Robinson said Fick, who underwent surgery in early March to remove bone chips from his right elbow, probably will spend the maximum 20 days allowed in the minors before coming off the DL.

Finally, right-hander Pedro Astacio, on the 15-day DL with a forearm strain, threw in a bullpen session Tuesday and is expected to do so again today. He will need to rehab in the minors before returning to the rotation.

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