- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2006

Q: How injured is Jose Guillen? I get the sense he has had few pain-free days in the last two months or so. His average has suffered dramatically, but I believe it is because he is injured. What is really going on there? — Jim Donahue

A: Well, he is injured. He’s on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, though I don’t believe that’s the only ailing part of Guillen’s body.

Really, since about June of last season, Guillen has been banged up in one form or another. He played most of last season with a torn labrum in his right shoulder, an injury he was still recovering from this spring. Then he hurt his wrist during spring training. Now it’s his hamstring.

So clearly, Guillen has not been 100 percent. Is that the sole reason for his dramatic decline in offensive production? No, though it certainly has played a role. Perhaps this stint on the DL will allow Guillen to heal fully for once, so he can return to some semblance of his previous self before he likely heads out of town around the July 31 trade deadline.

Q: Is Frank Robinson planning on playing Brendan Harris? I heard great things early on only to have him essentially sit. — Alan

A: Short answer: Yes. Long answer: Let’s wait and see.

Harris, who was playing well at Class AAA New Orleans, certainly deserves a shot to play on a somewhat regular basis. That didn’t happen during his first stint with the Nationals in April — he got only eight at-bats. But that was early in the season when optimism was still high for 2006. That’s not the case anymore — Washington’s recent upswing notwithstanding.

The problem is Harris’ two best positions — second and third base — are played by Jose Vidro and Ryan Zimmerman, respectively. He’s not going to get many at-bats at those spots. It’ll be interesting to see if Harris gets any time at shortstop, though, because Royce Clayton doesn’t figure into the club’s long-term plans. Harris would struggle some defensively there, but he might be worth a look.

Q: The Nationals’ Web site has Stan Kasten listed as the team’s president. It also has Kevin Uhlich still listed as executive VP. Has Tony Tavares already been replaced, and are the Lerners keeping Uhlich? — Jason Martz

A: Tavares does technically remain in power until the club is formally handed over to the Lerners in a few weeks. But he’s making few decisions these days without first consulting Kasten, sort of like a lame-duck president in his final weeks in the White House.

Uhlich (Tavares’ right-hand man since their days in Anaheim) will be replaced by Bob Wolfe (Kasten’s right-hand man since their days in Atlanta).

Q: With the Nationals in Milwaukee over the weekend, is it time to start talking about Ryan Zimmerman vs. Prince Fielder for rookie of the year? — Greg Haber

A: Sure, why not? But let’s not forget another guy who needs to be included in the mix: Florida shortstop Hanley Ramirez. Let’s compare the three rookies’ numbers through Saturday:

Zimmerman: .268 average, nine homers, 33 RBI, .790 OPS.

Fielder: .309 average, nine homers, 33 RBI, .886 OPS.

Ramirez: .312 average, two homers, 18 RBI, .845 OPS.

On offensive stats alone, Fielder or Ramirez (who also has 17 stolen bases) beats out Zimmerman. Of course, Zim is playing Gold Glove-caliber defense, which should count for something.

But it’s just the first week of June. Who knows what will happen between now and October? A year ago, Ryan Howard was a blip on everyone’s radar screen. These things have a way of changing quickly.

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

submit a question, go to the Sports Page

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