- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 27, 2006

There should be tears of joy over this transaction.

The Washington Nationals activated starting catcher Brian Schneider off the 15-day disabled list yesterday and placed right-handed reliever Felix Rodriguez on the 15-day DL with a shoulder problem.

Following last night’s 10-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Nationals outrighted catcher Wiki Gonzalez and purchased the contract of right-hander Shawn Hill from Class AAA New Orleans.

Hill is expected to start for the Nationals today against the Dodgers at RFK Stadium. Hill is 0-0 with a 3.60 ERA in one start with the Zephyrs and went 3-2 with a 2.64 ERA in eight starts at Class AA Harrisburg.

After Thursday’s victory over the Houston Astros, Nationals manager Frank Robinson became emotional in a post-game press conference because he yanked catcher Matthew LeCroy in the seventh inning for Robert Fick.

It was a difficult, but necessary, decision, Robinson said. The Astros stole seven bases on LeCroy, who committed two throwing errors while trying to deter the Astros from running at will. With Schneider back, the Nationals should improve defensively.

Schneider last season threw out 29 of 77 basestealers (37.7 percent) to lead National League regulars for the third straight year.

“If Schneider stays healthy, we’ll be fine,” said Robinson, who watched Schneider go 2-for-4 last night.

Schneider went on the DL May 13 with a strained left hamstring. In two rehab assignment games this week as the Class A Potomac Nationals’ designated hitter, Schneider went 2-for-9 with a double, RBI, and a run scored. Before last night’s game, Robinson said Fick is now Schneider’s backup and LeCroy will serve as a right-handed bat off the bench and play some first base.

With questions surrounding Schneider’s backup, the 29-year-old veteran was preparing to catch nearly every day.

“It was really frustrating, because if I’m healthy, Matt is not put in that situation and so forth,” said Schneider, who went on the DL for this first time in his major or minor league career. “I’m ready. I want to have the bulk of the catching load and that’s what I’m here to do.”

Placing the ineffective Rodriguez on the DL wasn’t a surprise. Rodriguez, who is 0-1 with a 6.85 ERA in 24 appearances this season, hadn’t pitched in a week since facing the Baltimore Orioles.

Heading to the DL?

Right fielder Jose Guillen said he may make a decision as early as today on whether he goes on the DL.

Guillen aggravated his right hamstring in the first inning of Thursday’s game against the Astros and was forced to leave in the third.

“It’s not good. We’ll see day-by-day how it feels,” said Guillen, who is batting just .212 this season. “I’m really considering to take my time now from this because I don’t want to keep hurting myself and I don’t want to go through this all year. I’m going to come tomorrow and see how it feels. If it doesn’t feel right, I might go on the DL.”

The Nationals gave Guillen five consecutive days off in an attempt to heal his hamstring. Guillen returned to the lineup Tuesday. He left Wednesday’s game in the third inning after getting pine tar in his left eye during batting practice, and then exited Thursday’s game after hurting himself while breaking out of the batter’s box on a groundout.

The Nationals fear if Guillen keeps trying to play with the nagging injury it may become more serious.

Another outfielder

Marlon Anderson, one of the game’s top pinch-hitters over the past two seasons, was surprised to see his name in the starting lineup but not stunned by where he was playing.

Anderson, who has started just four games this season at second base, became the fifth Nationals player to start in right field this season. Anderson’s first start in the outfield became necessary when Guillen sat out last night’s game with his strained hamstring.

“I’m not surprised that it’s in the outfield,” Anderson said. “The last two years I’ve started 60 to 70 games in the outfield. I’m not shocked to be out there.”

Anderson, whose 35 pinch hits are the most in the majors the past two seasons, entered last night’s game with just 44 at-bats and was hitting .205 in 38 games. He batted sixth in Robinson’s lineup.

Robinson “is tying to find an opportunity to get me in there whenever he can and try to keep us fresh,” Anderson said. “It’s hard for this team and as many bench guys as we’ve got that normally can play every day.”

Anderson went 1-for-4 last night with an RBI single in the seventh inning.

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