- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 13, 2006

Jose Vidro’s pre-game workout last night was enough to convince Washington Nationals officials he is ready to begin a rehabilitation assignment.

Vidro, who has been on the 15-day disabled list since July 25 with a strained left hamstring, will serve as designated hitter for Class A Potomac today against Wilmington. He will rejoin Washington tomorrow before continuing his rehab Tuesday at Class AA Harrisburg, where he will play second base in a three-game series against Trenton.

“He looked so good today, he looked like vintage Jose Vidro,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. “There [were] no restrictions and he felt great, so I don’t think there is any reason why we have to keep waiting.”

Vidro took grounders from bench coach Eddie Rodriguez hours before last night’s game against the New York Mets, both at second base and at third base to help build his arm strength. Vidro then took batting practice and hit line drives to all fields.

The Nationals would like to see Vidro get at least four at-bats today for Potomac.

“I need to get my body more in-shape,” Vidro said. “My legs are fine, no problem, no pain. I’ve got to run a little more and take more ground balls because today was the first day without any problems.”

After battling knee and ankle problems much of last season, Vidro didn’t foresee another health issue this year. But he has missed 22 games with his hamstring injury and is disappointed with his power numbers. He has just six home runs, 16 doubles and a .405 slugging percentage, his lowest since 1998.

“Other than my batting average [.300], the rest has been very disappointing for me,” Vidro said. “I didn’t drive in any runs [33 for the year] and I didn’t hit for a lot of power. I don’t care about home runs, I’m talking about doubles. In this ballpark, I expect myself at the end of the season to have close to 50 doubles here.”

Flying under the radar

Fans at RFK Stadium haven’t heard the fire alarm go off much this season.

That’s because Nationals closer Chad Cordero hasn’t had that many save opportunities.

Despite the Nationals’ struggles this season, Cordero is quietly putting together a solid season. He earned his 21st save Friday night, when he closed out the ninth inning of the Nationals’ 2-1 win over the division-leading New York Mets.

While nobody expected Cordero to duplicate his franchise-record 47-save season of 2005, the 24-year-old may have a chance to post a 30-save season — an accomplishment in itself because the Nationals haven’t been involved in many close games.

“For me, it’s been a tough year, especially with how many chances I got last year and everything that is going on this year,” said Cordero, who has saved 21 of 24 save opportunities. “Every time I go out there I try to see it as a save opportunity even if I go in and we’re down by a couple runs. I’ve got to keep my mind set and stay focused and everything because I might not have a save opportunity for a couple weeks.”

O’Connor throws

Rookie left-hander Mike O’Connor began a throwing program yesterday at Class AAA New Orleans but is not close to being reinstated to the active roster. O’Connor has been on the DL since July 30 with a sore left elbow.

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