- The Washington Times - Friday, August 18, 2006

The Washington Nationals are planning to activate Jose Vidro off the disabled list today, bringing the veteran second baseman back after a four-game minor league rehabilitation assignment.

Provided Vidro made it through last night’s game at Class AA Harrisburg showing no ill effects of the hamstring strain that has sidelined him since July 18, he’ll be activated in time for the start of this weekend’s series at Philadelphia.

“There will be discussions, probably, about what to do with him, depending on how he comes out of the game [last night],” manager Frank Robinson said. “He’ll be checked [today] and then we’ll make a decision.”

To make room on the roster for Vidro, the Nationals yesterday placed left-hander Micah Bowie on the 15-day DL with a strained upper back muscle, an injury that had kept the reliever out of action since Aug. 9.

Vidro’s return, while a boon for a Washington offense that was shut out yesterday by the Atlanta Braves, could have some other complicating effects. Bernie Castro had started the last four games at second base, and Robinson has said he would like to get a longer look at the rookie speedster.

Castro will remain on the active roster, and he’ll likely get some occasional starts in place of Vidro as the rest of the season plays out.

Robinson also must decide where to hit Vidro in his lineup. The 31-year-old is hitting .300 in 90 games this year and typically bats second or third, but he has only 23 extra-base hits and 33 RBI. And with Alfonso Soriano, Felipe Lopez and Ryan Zimmerman making for a solid top of the order the last few weeks, Robinson could be tempted to drop Vidro to sixth or seventh.

Bowie to DL

Bowie had been hoping to avoid a DL stint, but the Nationals decided he wasn’t going to be ready soon enough to warrant keeping him on the 25-man roster after already missing eight games.

The left-hander played catch before yesterday’s game and said his arm felt fine, but admitted he probably was not ready for game action.

The long layoff has been difficult for Bowie, who was in the midst of an impressive stretch, posting a 1.37 ERA over 15 games.

“It’s extremely frustrating,” he said. “You never want to stop when things are going well. Any time you get on a roll, you want to stay on it as long as you can. It’s very frustrating, but then again, I’ll keep working hard and go back out there again.”

Though he pitched only briefly out of the Washington bullpen, Bowie has made a strong impression on the organization. Enough to warrant a permanent spot next season?

“Yeah, he’s done a good job,” Robinson said. “I’m pleasantly surprised by how consistent he’s been, against left-handers and right-handers. He’s been super. As far as I’m concerned, he certainly figures into the plans for next season.”

Patterson progressing

John Patterson played catch before yesterday’s game, the second time the right-hander has thrown a ball since having surgery July 20 to repair an impinged nerve in his forearm.

Patterson threw for 10 minutes from 75 feet and said he was surprised to emerge feeling so good.

“The first time [on Tuesday] it felt a little awkward, trying to get a feel again,” he said. “Today, it felt pretty normal to me. For having surgery a month ago, it feels pretty strong.”

Patterson hasn’t ruled out a return to the mound in late September, but the Nationals are being cautious with his rehabilitation.

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