- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 19, 2006

MIAMI — The Washington Nationals aren’t exactly sporting a conventional roster these days.

Through trades, injuries and other assorted events, Washington finds itself without a single backup middle infielder or emergency catcher. The Nationals do have five full-time outfielders and three others who can play out there and a seven-man bullpen that boasts three rookies.

All the changes have made it impossible for manager Frank Robinson to make some of the in-game moves he might under normal circumstances.

For example, with Jose Vidro sidelined last night and utility infielder Damian Jackson on the disabled list, Robinson was forced to start a middle infield of Marlon Anderson and Felipe Lopez with no available backups for either.

And once Matt LeCroy was designated for assignment on Monday, Washington lost its third-string catcher. With no other emergency options, Robinson is hesitant to use both Brian Schneider and Robert Fick in the same game.

“You’d like to have the players to make moves so you can compete with other ballclubs, but you have to understand the situation,” Robinson said. “That’s the way it is. You do the best you can. … There’s no sense getting worried about what you don’t have. Worry about what you do have.”

With the Nationals embarking on an admitted rebuilding project, with an eye on the franchise’s long-term competitiveness, the club is being forced to sacrifice some short-term success.

“I don’t think it affects our ability to put a competitive team out there, but it does affect you in a way where you can’t win games over a long period of time,” Robinson said. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for you. And you don’t want players making excuses. You play, but it’s difficult. So what we’re doing, yeah, we have to sacrifice a little bit now for the future.”

Injury update

Right fielder Jose Guillen will undergo an MRI today on his right elbow, which forced him to leave last night’s game before the bottom of the third inning.

Guillen, who dealt with elbow pain earlier this month, aggravated it on a wild throw in the first inning that wound up in between the plate and third base. After making one warm-up toss in the third, swelling forced him to leave the game. He was replaced by Alex Escobar.

“It burned like it was on fire,” Guillen said. “I don’t know what’s going on.”

Meanwhile, Vidro was out with the same left hamstring strain that forced him to leave Monday’s game in the third inning.

Vidro, who said he first felt tightness in his leg over the weekend in Pittsburgh, is not expected to miss more than a day or two, but Robinson plans to play it safe with his veteran second baseman.

“You don’t know about these things,” Robinson said. “It’s tight — what does that mean? As far as I’m concerned, a hamstring, when it’s bothering you, it’s bothering you. I don’t feel good about them until they’re well. Because they could go at any minute. So when it gets to a time where it’s tolerable and he can go back out there, I’ll put him out there.”

Extra bases

Jackson was formally placed on the 15-day disabled list with spasms in his esophagus. The move is retroactive to July 8, because Jackson had not appeared in a game since the previous day. If his condition improves, he’ll be eligible to return on Sunday. …

Chris Marrero, Washington’s top pick in last month’s draft, is 10-for-23 with four doubles and five RBI and has hit safely in each of his first six games with the organization’s Gulf Coast League rookie team.

Got a question about the Nats? Mark Zuckerman has the answers. To submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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