Nationals Notebook

Guzman's Shoulder Is Worrisome

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, March 18, 2006

VIERA, Fla., March 17 -- Washington Nationals shortstop Cristian Guzman said Friday that he has experienced pain in his ailing right shoulder for "three or four years," dating from his six-season run in Minnesota.

"My shoulder's really bothered me for that long," Guzman said a day after he had a torn labrum diagnosed, an injury that means he will miss at least two weeks and potentially the entire season. "But I played like that, because I don't like not to play. But this year, this is different. It's worse."

Guzman said this after going through a grueling cardiovascular workout at Space Coast Stadium, where he will try to stay in good physical shape even though he can't throw or hit. He is dreading the impending decision on whether he should have surgery because he badly wants to put behind a miserable 2005 in which he hit .219 with an on-base percentage of .260.

"If I don't feel better in the next two weeks, they'll have to do something," Guzman said. "But I don't want to. That's why I'm working harder right now because I don't want a big operation. Last year was not a good year for me. I want to put up my numbers everybody knows I can."

Drese Throws

Right-hander Ryan Drese saw his first action of the spring Friday, throwing 40 pitches in a simulated game as he tries to come back from shoulder surgery performed in September. Everything went well, Drese said, and he will throw 50 pitches in another simulated game in the next few days before finally appearing in Grapefruit League action. He almost certainly will begin the year on the disabled list.

"It's better to miss a few [starts] early on just to make sure you take your time to get ready so you can be healthy the rest of the year," Drese said.

Drese, picked up off waivers from Texas last June, went 3-6 with a 4.98 ERA in 11 starts for the Nationals. He is on the outside looking in at the rotation, which would be Livan Hernandez, John Patterson, Ramon Ortiz, Pedro Astacio and Tony Armas Jr. if the season were to start now. Jon Rauch, whose velocity is up to 92 mph, is making a strong push to break into that group.

Guillen Swings

Right fielder Jose Guillen took 50 swings in batting practice Friday and is scheduled to hit in a simulated game Saturday as he prepares to make his spring debut Monday. Guillen, who is recovering from offseason shoulder surgery and inflammation in his left wrist this spring, said everything is on schedule.

"The shoulder's fine," he said. "I have no concern whatsoever about the shoulder. With the wrist, you never know with an injury like that is going to show up, but so far, so good."

Pitcher Hits RHP Livan Hernandez took batting practice Friday and hit two home runs. Hernandez hit .244 with two homers and seven RBI in 82 at-bats last season. Up Next vs. Mets in Viera, Fla., 1:05 p.m.

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