Kasten to Have A Front-Office Meet and Greet

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Incoming Washington Nationals president Stan Kasten will be in town to meet with each member of the front office tomorrow, beginning the evaluation process that will determine who will stay and who won't when the family of principal owner Theodore N. Lerner officially takes over.

"Obviously, it's an introduction in two directions," Kasten said by phone yesterday. "And it'll help us set the course for future meetings."

Kasten has not said what members of the front office he will keep. He met with General Manager Jim Bowden in Atlanta earlier this month.

Until the sale from Major League Baseball officially closes -- optimistic observers predict by the middle of June, some not until July 1 -- Kasten doesn't have the power to make decisions. Recently, the Nationals considered releasing some veteran players and replacing them with minor leaguers. Current president Tony Tavares, however, doesn't feel comfortable making decisions for the new ownership group. "Tony and I have talked about that," Kasten said. "I think, eventually, decisions are going to be made, but it's been clear that until closing, baseball runs the team."

Hamstring Sends Escobar to the DL

When batting practice began, Alex Escobar was in the starting lineup, hitting sixth and playing center field. But at some point during the afternoon, Escobar told the club's athletic training staff that he had a hamstring problem. After a brief, on-field meeting with Bowden, Manager Frank Robinson and head athletic trainer Tim Abraham, Escobar was scratched from the lineup, and following the 10-3 loss to the Houston Astros, he was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hamstring strain rated as the lowest of three grades.

"I wasn't expecting this," Escobar said. "This came out of nowhere."

Escobar, called up from the minors Saturday, has a history of injuries, and some in the clubhouse looked at this as a sign that he couldn't handle pain. Escobar had three hits in his first eight at-bats back in the majors, but the team did not recall an outfielder because, as Bowden said, they need "pitching, pitching, pitching."

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