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Nationals Notebook

Vidro's Hard Work 'Paying Off'

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 16, 2005; Page D03

VIERA, Fla., Feb. 15 -- On most teams, the all-stars tend to be the prima donnas, the guys who roll into spring training camp at the last minute only because they have to be there. Yet no Washington National began working out at Space Coast Stadium earlier than second baseman Jose Vidro, a three-time all-star who arrived Feb. 1 to continue the rehabilitation of his surgically repaired right knee.

Vidro said Tuesday that his workouts, though limited, are going well.

"I'm very excited," he said. "First of all, I've got to say I'm almost there. I'm going to be able to play. . . . I've been doing a lot of work, and it seems to be paying off."

Vidro's work has consisted largely of running on a treadmill, pedaling a stationary bicycle and taking swings in a batting cage. Monday, he took ground balls for the first time, a routine he plans on repeating every other day until he feels strong enough to do it every day.

"That's one thing that me and the trainers are going to discuss," Vidro said. "Obviously, early in spring training it's not going to be able to go full. . . . It's a process, and even if I say I'm 100 percent, they're not going to let me go 100 percent out there."

Vidro struggled with tendinitis in his right patella tendon for most of the season, and for the first time in his career, he failed to hit .300 (.294). He went on the disabled list on Aug. 26 and two weeks later, he underwent surgery.

"He's the backbone of this organization," outfielder-first baseman Brad Wilkerson said. "He's been here for so long. The way he swings the bat and the way he goes out there and plays hard every day, I think it's essential for this ballclub to have a healthy Vidro. . . . We desperately need him to be healthy the whole season."

Hernandez Due Friday

Nationals officials said they were "satisfied" with the whereabouts of all their pitchers and catchers, who were due to report Tuesday. The most notable absence was staff ace Livan Hernandez, who, a club source said, had some "family business" to take care of, and likely won't report until Friday. Reliever Antonio Osuna, who had visa problems in traveling from his native Mexico, cleared that up, but remained home to tend to his father, who is ill.

Both absences are considered excused. The mandatory reporting date, per the collective bargaining agreement, is March 1. . . .

The Nationals made one move Tuesday, trading infielder Alejandro Machado, 22, to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named. . . . Position players aren't due to report until Sunday, but at least six were here Tuesday -- Vidro, Wilkerson, first baseman Nick Johnson, infielder Henry Mateo and outfielders Alex Escobar and Ryan Church.

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