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Nationals Notebook

Comeback Kid: Vidro Returns

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, March 20, 2005; Page E13

VIERA, Fla., March 19 -- A day after having an MRI exam on his hyperextended right elbow, Washington Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro unexpectedly returned to the lineup Saturday for the first time in a week, vowing to play nearly every game between now and Opening Day in an attempt to get prepared for the season.

Vidro suffered the elbow injury while swinging March 12, and hadn't played since. He had been working his way into spring training slowly because he is still rehabilitating his right knee, on which he had surgery last September. He said his knee is "100 percent," and though he went 0 for 3 in the Nationals' 8-2 victory over the Indians, he fielded six chances without a problem.

Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro is returning to the team faster than expected. (Toni L. Sandys - The Washington Post)

_____Nats Tickets_____

The Washington Nationals announced yesterday that 1,600 tickets for the April 14 home opener will be available through an e-mail lottery. Fans may register at www.nationals.com; registration closes Tuesday at noon.

Four hundred fans will be chosen through the lottery and given the opportunity to purchase up to four seats for the opener.

The remainder of the Opening Day tickets may be purchased via phone (through Ticketmaster), at the RFK Stadium box office or online on March 26.

_____Dodgers Basics_____
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_____Mets Basics_____
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"I'm very happy," he said. "I made a couple plays there at second base. My knee felt great. My arm was strong."

The MRI on Friday revealed no further damage to the elbow. Team physician Bruce Thomas initially said he expected Vidro to wait to play until Monday or Tuesday. Vidro said he would skip Sunday's trip to Vero Beach, where the Nationals play the Los Angeles Dodgers. But after that, he said, he'll be in the lineup.

"I'm going to play every day," he said.

Manager Frank Robinson said he might be a bit more cautious with his star.

"No sense in pushing him to the extent where he might have a setback," Robinson said.

Castilla Out

Third baseman Vinny Castilla underwent an MRI exam on his left knee, injured during Friday night's game against the New York Mets. The test showed no further damage, and Castilla said he'd likely miss only three or four days. Right-hander John Patterson, scheduled to start in a minor league game Sunday, has tightness in his right hip flexor and is day-to-day. . . .

Representatives of the Theodore N. Lerner real estate group, one of the bidders to own the Nationals, are in Florida through Sunday night, and toured Space Coast Stadium Saturday with General Manager Jim Bowden.

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