- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 2, 2006

Right-hander Pedro Astacio will make his long-awaited Washington Nationals debut tomorrow against the Florida Marlins.

To make room on the roster for Astacio, who has been on the 60-day disabled list since the start of the season, the team placed rookie right-hander Shawn Hill (elbow) on the 15-day DL and gave right-handed reliever Santiago Ramirez his unconditional release.

Astacio, 36, injured his right forearm April 1 against the Baltimore Orioles in the team’s final exhibition game of the season.

“If he can give us four or five innings, that would be better than him doing it at Potomac or someplace else,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

Hill’s placement on the DL, retroactive to June 29, came as a precaution. Hill (1-3, 4.66 ERA) missed last season after having Tommy John surgery on the same right elbow. He said he could pitch tomorrow if he had to.

Vidro leads off

With the Nationals having lost nine of their last 10 games entering last night, Robinson made big changes to his lineup in an effort to get the team back on track.

Robinson moved second baseman Jose Vidro into the lead-off spot and dropped Alfonso Soriano, the Nationals’ normal lead-off man, into the No. 3 spot. Marlon Anderson started in center field, and Robert Fick was behind the plate for a slumping Brian Schneider.

But it didn’t take long for Schneider to enter the game. Fick left in the top of the third inning with gastrointestinal distress.

Last night was the first time Vidro has led off for the Nationals. He last led off Aug. 16, 2002 with the Montreal Expos.

Draft picks arrive

First-round picks Chris Marrero (outfielder) and Colton Willems (pitcher) made their first visit to RFK Stadium yesterday. The 17-year-olds took some batting practice, and the right-handed Willems threw in the bullpen — and met club personnel.

Rookie third baseman Ryan Zimmerman gave the two high school players perhaps the best advice.

“One of the best things about this team is that they’re not worried about how old you are, or how long you’ve played. If you’re ready, they’re going to bring you up,” Zimmerman told them. “Go out and do your business. Stay humble, it’s a tough game. Just when you’re going good, it can go bad.”

Another security breach?

Was Nationals outfielder Marlon Byrd a victim of another crime at RFK?

Put it this way, somebody tried to break into Byrd’s vehicle at either RFK or his residence. Byrd noticed the damage yesterday and reported that his car had been vandalized.

The team arrived in Washington early Friday morning from Toronto. Byrd drove his car home from RFK that morning, but didn’t realize someone tried to enter through his car’s roof until yesterday.

The Nationals are reviewing RFK’s surveillance tapes to see if the attempted break-in occurred at the stadium. Byrd is also having the security tapes reviewed where he lives.

About 4 p.m. yesterday, Byrd had a heated argument in the clubhouse with Emory Waters, the director of security at RFK.

At one point, Byrd angrily asked Waters, “What are you going to do for me?”

Waters replied, “Marlon, I’m not going to have you yell at me in here.”

Last season, Byrd’s black Cadillac Escalade was stolen from RFK’s players parking lot when the Nationals were on a road trip in Pittsburgh. Byrd’s SUV was recovered a few weeks later, and his comments were some of the more memorable of the season.

“[This happening to] a major league baseball team in Washington D.C. after September 11? It makes no sense,” Byrd said after break-ins of 12 cars belonging to the Nationals and their employees in June 2005. “There was major-league security when I was in [Philadelphia]. You had a guy sitting out there the whole time.”

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

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