- The Washington Times - Monday, July 24, 2006

Jose Guillen’s season may be over.

According to a team source, the Washington Nationals’ medical staff believes Guillen damaged the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Guillen is scheduled to be examined today by orthopedic surgeon James Andrews in Birmingham, Ala.

If Andrews finds ligament damage in Guillen’s throwing elbow, season-ending Tommy John surgery may be required.

The Nationals right fielder appeared to injure his elbow in the first inning of Tuesday’s game against the Florida Marlins when he uncorked a wild throw to the plate. He left the game in the third inning and hasn’t played since.

Guillen was placed on the 15-day disabled list Thursday.

The injury likely means Guillen will not be traded. With Guillen due to become a free agent at the end of the season and Austin Kearns positioned as the Nationals’ right fielder of the future, the team had hoped to deal Guillen before next Monday’s trading deadline.

Guillen, who has battled myriad injuries this season, including ones to his shoulder, wrist, chest and hamstring, has been most affected by his elbow because he can’t fully extend on his swing. Guillen, who has a .272 career batting average, is hitting just .216 this season.

Guillen was the Nationals’ top offensive threat last season. He led the team in runs (81), hits (156), total bases (264), home runs (24), RBI (76) and game-winning hits (12). This season, Guillen has just nine home runs, 15 doubles and 40 RBI in 241 at-bats.

New hire

The Nationals are expected to hire Mike Rizzo today for a front office position.

Rizzo, who has spent the past six seasons as the Arizona Diamondbacks’ head of amateur scouting, interviewed with the Nationals last Monday.

Rizzo is considered one of the top talent evaluators in the game. He helped build a Diamondbacks farm system that was rated baseball’s best this year by Baseball America and drafted players like Brandon Webb, Chad Tracy, Conor Jackson and Carlos Quentin.

Rizzo’s job title is not yet known.

Section 468

Center fielder Ryan Church hit a monstrous home run to the upper deck in right field in his return to the team.

Church, who was recalled from Class AAA New Orleans on Saturday, belted a fourth-inning pitch from Chicago Cubs rookie for one of the longer home runs this year at RFK Stadium.

“I didn’t even know I got it up there. I just knew I got it and started running,” Church said of his fifth homer this season. “I really didn’t know until Daryle Ward said, ‘Don’t even try going up there.’ I don’t have his pop.”

Extra bases

Following yesterday’s game, the Nationals optioned utilityman Melvin Dorta to Class AA Harrisburg and reinstated infielder Damian Jackson to the active roster. Jackson had been on the disabled list with esophageal spasms. … RFK Stadium’s”grand reopening” drew 104,314 for the three-game series against the Cubs, an average of 34,771 a game. … Minor leaguer Tony Blanco is out for the rest of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery Friday to repair a torn labrum in his right shoulder. Blanco spent all of last season with the Nationals and batted .177 in 56 games. He opened this season at Class A Potomac.

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

submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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