- The Washington Times - Monday, June 12, 2006

Brendan Harris has a great swing, the ability to play almost anywhere in the infield and youth.

What he doesn’t have is an opportunity to become an everyday player for the Washington Nationals.

But Nationals manager Frank Robinson gave starting second baseman Jose Vidro a rare day off yesterday. In his place, Harris hit 1-for-4 with a double and a run in the Nationals’ 6-0 win over Philadelphia. With Ryan Zimmerman likely to be the Nationals’ starting third baseman for the next decade and the three-time All-Star Vidro having an excellent season, the 25-year-old Harris presents a difficult dilemma.

Everyone in the club’s front office and Robinson loves Harris. They just have limited chances to play him.

“Yeah, get a couple guys traded,” Robinson said of how Harris could get more playing time. “Right now, he’s in a tough situation at second and third with the two guys we have playing there. Third base is his best position. We just don’t see him playing there.”

Harris opened the season with Class AAA New Orleans, where he hit .333 (51-for-153) with 11 doubles, four home runs and 23 RBI in 40 games. At the time of his promotion, his batting average was the second-highest in the Nationals’ farm system.

“Anywhere that opens up, tell you the truth,” Harris said when asked his best position. “If I had to pick, maybe second or short. With the [Chicago] Cubs, before I got traded over here, I played almost exclusively short and second. When I got traded to the [Montreal] Expos is really when I moved to third.”

Harris was the final piece in the July 31, 2004 deadline deal that sent Nomar Garciaparra to the Cubs and Expos shortstop Orlando Cabrera to the Boston Red Sox.

Zephyrs’ Foli hospitalized

Class AAA New Orleans manager Tim Foli has taken an indefinite leave of absence from the team after being hospitalized Thursday for symptoms related to heat exhaustion.

Foli, 55, will return to his Tennessee home to recuperate. Zephyrs field coordinator Scott Little will serve as interim manager. Doctors cleared Foli of having a pre-existing heart condition.

“I called guys and they said he was in the hospital and rumors of kind of a stroke to almost severe dehydration,” said Harris, who played for Foli in New Orleans the past two seasons. “It is ungodly humid down there. Somebody said he kind of saw some stars and then collapsed a little bit. The guy really wants the best for you. I kind of enjoyed my time with him. I think I’ve gotten better being with him. We’re thinking of him.”

The Nationals call up players based on Foli’s recommendations. The club expects Foli to return in seven to 10 days and won’t change its interactions with the Zephyrs with Little temporarily in charge.

“Business as usual,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. “We told him to relax. Health is more important than baseball.”

Power show

Before yesterday’s game, four sluggers from the World Softball League showed off their power in a home run derby.

Many Nationals players watched as some of the right-handed softball sluggers — using metal bats — pulled balls into RFK Stadium’s red upper deck in left field. None attempted to challenge RFK’s 410-foot fence in straightaway center.

“Those ball are made to be hit far and those guys are big dudes,” Nationals catcher Brian Schneider said. “The balls are rocks. They’re made to be hit far. They’re not normal softballs.”

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