- The Washington Times - Monday, August 14, 2006

Washington Nationals left fielder Alfonso Soriano was not in a celebratory mood yesterday even though he hit a milestone home run.

“I was very happy to get my 200th [career] homer and it’s a nice goal, but it means nothing to me because I didn’t do anything to win this game,” Soriano said after a 3-1 loss to the New York Mets.

Soriano led off the fourth inning with his 38th home run of the season, which landed in the left-field bullpen, to give the Nationals a 1-0 lead against the Mets and starter Steve Trachsel. The right-hander had retired the first nine Washington batters.

Soriano, who has homered in three of his last four games and six of his last 10, is tied for fourth on the franchise’s single-season home run list with Vladimir Guerrero. He needs six more home runs in the final 45 games to equal Guerrero’s franchise record set in 2000.

“I was surprised in 2002 when I got 39 homers,” Soriano said. “My first year in 2001, I never thought I would hit a lot of homers in the big leagues. But I’m working hard, working on my swing and my timing at home plate, and that’s why I think I hit more homers and am a better player now.”

On a rehab

It has been nearly three months since injured reliever Felix Rodriguez last pitched for the Nationals. Based on his first rehab outing at Class A Potomac, the veteran may not return to Washington any time soon.

Rodriguez, who has been on the 60-day disabled list with tendinitis in his right shoulder, started yesterday’s game against the Wilmington Blue Rocks. Rodriguez allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits, including a home run, in one inning. He had no walks or strike outs.

Rodriguez is scheduled to report to Class AAA New Orleans tomorrow.

Vidro’s day as DH

Injured second baseman Jose Vidro’s rehab assignment at Potomac yesterday was more successful than Rodriguez’s. Vidro, who served as the Potomac Nationals’ designated hitter and batted third, went 1-for-3 with a double and reached base on an error in his second at-bat.

Vidro has been on the 15-day DL since July 25 (retroactive to July 18) with a strained left hamstring. The plan for the three-time All-Star is to return to Washington today and then begin a three-game assignment with Class AA Harrisburg tomorrow. Vidro is expected to play second base for the Senators in their series against Trenton.

Heads up

Nationals fans with premium seats behind each dugout were forced to pay close attention to the game in the second inning because of flying bats.

Austin Kearns swung through the second pitch he saw and sent his bat flying into the camera well along the third base line.

Ryan Church then couldn’t keep a grip on his bat, which flew into the stands behind the visitors dugout on the first-base side. Two years ago in spring training, Church had a problem holding on to bats but seemed to correct the problem as camp progressed.

As for Kearns, it was the second straight game the right-hander let go of a bat. In his first at-bat Saturday night against Mets starter John Maine, Kearns’ bat landed in the stands behind the Nationals’ dugout.

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