- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 28, 2006

When Washington Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen first injured his right hamstring two weeks ago in Chicago, he refused to go on the disabled list. Now he has no choice.

Yesterday, the Nationals placed Guillen on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to May 26) with a strained right hamstring and purchased the contract of outfielder Mike Vento from Class AAA New Orleans. To make room for Vento on the club’s 40-man roster, the Nationals transferred injured pitcher Zach Day from the 15-day to the 60-day DL.

“I know how I like to play, but this is very serious,” said Guillen, who is hitting just .212 in 137 at-bats. “I cannot keep going there and hurting myself. I can play with pain in my shoulder and my knee whatever, but a hamstring is very difficult. The only way I can get better is just resting this.”

Guillen will report to the Nationals’ Viera, Fla., spring training complex to begin his rehab tomorrow, when the club leaves for a nine-game road trip beginning in Philadelphia. Guillen is eligible to come off the DL on June 9, when the Phillies visit RFK Stadium.

Guillen first strained his hamstring running the bases May 17 in Chicago. He sat out five consecutive games and returned to the lineup last Tuesday against the Houston Astros.

The following night, Guillen left the game in the third inning after getting pine tar in his left eye during batting practice. Then on Thursday, Guillen exited in the third inning again after he re-injured his right hamstring breaking out of the batter’s box on a first-inning groundout.

If the Nationals had placed Guillen on the 15-day DL when he first injured himself, he would have been eligible to be activated by the end of this week.

“You can’t put someone on the DL if they don’t want to go on the DL,” Nationals manager Frank Robinson said.

Vento, who turned 29 on Thursday, is leading the Pacific Coast League with a .375 batting average. He also has six home runs, 10 doubles and 21 RBI in 44 games. Vento is tied for third in the PCL with a .435 on-base percentage.

“This is this year’s version of Rick Short, a blue-collar, hard-nosed kid that can hit,” Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. “It’s nice in this game when you get to see blue-collar guys that may not have all the tools but are guys that work [their] life to get here and then get here.”

Second opinion for Day

The Nationals transferred Day to the 60-day DL because the right-hander is seeking a second opinion before deciding whether to have exploratory shoulder surgery.

Day, who went on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, is going to Birmingham, Ala., early this week, to have noted orthopedic surgeon James Andrews examine his throwing shoulder.

“We’re going to see Andrews and hopefully avoid doing that [surgery], so that’s the plan,” Day said. “It’s just the history and trying to figure out a way to alleviate the up and down of the shoulder. For me, we’re just trying to find out what’s going on.”

The Nationals claimed Day off waivers from the Colorado Rockies on April 26. Day is 1-3 with a 4.73 ERA in five starts this season.

When the Nationals claimed Day, Tim Kremchek — the Nationals’ senior orthopedic consultant — examined him and determined he had back spasms. A saline-ehanced MRI of Day’s shoulder was taken Wednesday. It showed no damage and Day was prescribed a cortisone shot and rest.

If Day has to have surgery, it’s likely Kremchek, who is also the Cincinnati Reds’ medical director, will perform the procedure.

Church on the move

The Nationals transferred outfielder Ryan Church to New Orleans from Class AA Harrisburg yesterday to fill the roster spot vacated by Vento. In five games with Harrisburg, Church hit .211 (4-for-19) with two home runs, three RBI and three walks. The two homers came Thursday against Erie.

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