- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

VIERA, Fla. — The Washington Nationals yesterday told shortstop Cristian Guzman not to swing a bat or throw for the next few days because of tendinitis in his right shoulder.

“I think everything will be OK,” Guzman said. “[Team physician Ben Shaffer] gave me the news that I have a little bit of tendinitis and might need to take a couple weeks.”

Guzman, who missed all of last season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder, participated in conditioning and fielding drills yesterday. He showed some slick glove work during infield practice but either rolled the ball back through the infield or deposited balls in a pile at the hole in short.

Depending on how his shoulder progresses over the next few days, there’s a chance Guzman could resume throwing sometime at the end of the week. The club took an MRI on Guzman’s shoulder Monday, and it came back negative.

“I reviewed the MRI today and it showed that the shoulder is structurally sound and the [Superior Labrum Anterior-Posterior] lesion that he had repaired is healed,” Shaffer said. “Really, the MRI was more precautionary than anything else. We’ll just back him down a little bit in his throwing program and probably start him at the end of the week at about 60 feet.”

The Nationals have pretty much handed Guzman the starting shortstop job even though he missed all of last season and hit just .219 in 2005. Guzman said most of the pain in his shoulder is from the shot they gave him for the MRI.

More infield depth

Ronnie Belliard was the starting second baseman on the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals last season, but he’s accepted a job as a backup infielder with the Nationals. Belliard, 31, reported to camp after agreeing to a nonguaranteed minor league deal Sunday.

“I’ve talked to Manny [Acta] and we talked about it, that I can play third, I can play short and I can play second,” Belliard said. “The idea is to help the team win. I know what’s the deal, so that’s why I came down.”

Last season Belliard hit a combined .272 with 30 doubles, 13 homers and 67 RBI in 147 games with the Cardinals and Cleveland Indians. During the offseason, Belliard tried to land with a club willing to give him a long-term contract. When there were no takers, Belliard became a free agent.

“I’m not surprised. But, hey, this is baseball, and I want to play baseball,” said Belliard, who is a career .272 hitter. “Like I said, this is a young team. I know Manny Acta and I know Jose Rijo, and I know a lot of guys in [the clubhouse], so that’s why I came down here.”

Cordero’s contract

Closer Chad Cordero’s salary arbitration hearing was held last night in Phoenix, and the ruling will be made public sometime today. Cordero, who posted a 3.19 ERA with 29 saves, is seeking $4.15 million. The Nationals are offering $3.65 million.

Last Thursday, general manager Jim Bowden met with Cordero and his agent in an attempt to avoid arbitration and perhaps work out a long-term deal. Bowden is 2-0 in arbitration cases as the Nationals’ general manager.

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