- The Washington Times - Monday, April 24, 2006

The weather in New Orleans has to be warm before the Washington Nationals send injured shortstop Cristian Guzman on a rehabilitation assignment there.

Nationals general manager Jim Bowden has Guzman at the Nationals extended spring training camp in Viera, Fla., where the temperature is usually in the 80s.

Guzman tore the right labrum in his shoulder during spring training. Instead of opting for season-ending shoulder surgery, Guzman has undergone a vigorous program to build up enough strength in his throwing arm. The Nationals are hoping Guzman can play this season and then have offseason shoulder surgery, if necessary.

Guzman played in a game Saturday for the first time this season when he went 1-for-3 and looked good in the field in an intrasquad game. Bowden’s plan for Guzman is to play five more games at extended spring training and then begin a rehab assignment with the Class AAA New Orleans Zephyrs.

“He played well and did not feel any pain this morning,” Bowden said. “We’re going to keep him there four or five days as long as there is no problem and then we’ll look at moving him to New Orleans. The reason we started him there [Viera, Fla.] is because of the temperature. We want to make sure it’s warm enough, make sure there is no setback. If he can go four or five games with no setback, and he’s throwing fine with no pain, and New Orleans’ temperature is warm, I’m going to shoot him there in about five days.”

Bowden said the club hasn’t entirely ruled out surgery for its $12.6million shortstop. Last season, Guzman batted just .219 — the lowest batting average of all of baseball’s everyday shortstops.

“He’s making progress, we have a chance,” Bowden said. “According to the trainers, the doctors, and according to Cristian, I think maybe this [rehab] is working.”

Guzman sat out of yesterday’s extended spring game, but is expected to play in today’s game.

Around the horn

Before last night’s game, manager Frank Robinson presented left fielder Alfonso Soriano with his American League Silver Slugger Award from last season — for being the AL’s top-hitting second baseman. … Robinson also was honored for winning his 1,000th game Thursday in Philadelphia with a commemorative Nationals jersey that read: “Robinson 1,000 wins” on the back. A check for $10,000 in Robinson’s name was donated to a cancer institute. … Fans who saved their ticket stubs and parking receipts from Friday’s rainout against the Atlanta Braves can use the tickets for the Sept. 18 makeup date, or exchange the ticket for any game on the schedule, depending on availability. Fans can trade in seats for equal or lesser value. … No one in the Nationals organization has heard from Major League Baseball on reliever Felix Rodriguez’s appeal for his three-game suspension in a beanball incident April 6 at the New York Mets.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To

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