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Nationals Notebook

Robinson Evaluates New Talent

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 22, 2005; Page D05

VIERA, Fla., Feb. 21 -- The Washington Nationals' first workout as an entire team is scheduled for Tuesday morning. But Monday afternoon, after position players filtered in and took physicals, a slew of them arrived on the auxiliary fields to take batting practice -- including seven of the eight players who figure to be in Manager Frank Robinson's everyday lineup.

"You get some new faces in, you get some excitement into camp," Robinson said. "You feel like a team with everybody else here. It's a good feeling."

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The only projected regular not to appear on the fields was center fielder Endy Chavez. The three offseason additions to the starting lineup -- third baseman Vinny Castilla, shortstop Cristian Guzman and right fielder Jose Guillen -- all took batting practice after completing their physicals. Robinson said he would pay particular attention to those new faces over the next few weeks.

"I have to eyeball those guys that I haven't seen up close and I haven't seen for a length of time, just to try to get a little feel for what they're capable of doing and how they . . . go about doing it," Robinson said. "It's very important."

Baerga to Minors

The Nationals agreed to terms Monday with veteran infielder Carlos Baerga on a minor league contract, adding another veteran to a clubhouse that sorely lacked leadership last year. Baerga, once one of the best second basemen in the game and a three-time all-star with the Cleveland Indians, hit .235 with two homers and 11 RBI in 79 games for Arizona last season, almost exclusively as a pinch hitter. In 13 big league seasons, Baerga, 36, has hit .292 with 132 homers and 755 RBI. He would make $350,000 if he makes the team. . . .

The club invited shortstop Ian Desmond, a 19-year-old who was the franchise's third-round pick in last year's draft, to major league spring training camp. . . .

Reliever Joey Eischen left Monday's workout early after feeling ill, but said he expects to be fine by the end of the week.

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