Guillen Says He'll Be Back By the Spring

By Preston Williams
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, August 10, 2006

Washington Nationals outfielder Jose Guillen, who is recovering from recent elbow surgery, vows to be healthy by 2007 spring training despite the severity of his injury.

"I'll be hitting in three months," a smiling Guillen said before last night's game. "I'll be ready next year, spring training. Hundred percent. No doubt in my mind I'll be ready by spring training."

Guillen, a free agent after this season, suffered a complete tear of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow and underwent ligament replacement surgery. Medical personnel said the recovery likely would take between eight and 18 months. But Guillen said his recovery so far has been a lot more expeditious than that of other players -- mostly pitchers -- who undergo the procedure.

At the time of the injury last month, he was hitting .216 with nine homers and 40 RBI.

"It was not only the tear, it was all the muscles around there," Guillen said. "Everything was broken in half, so I don't even know how I was playing like this. It's the same thing that Dr. Andrews told me: 'How can you keep playing like that?' " referring to James Andrews, the orthopedist who discovered the tear.

"I'm just happy they fixed the problem. It was so painful going through stuff and not performing the way I was capable of performing. I'm just happy to get this done."

Ditto for Manager Frank Robinson, who has become a trusted confidant of the sometimes volatile Guillen.

"It was tough to see him struggle, period, but knowing him, he was going to go out there if he could walk," Robinson said. "You knew he was going to go out there if he could just kick the ball back to the infield. He wants to play. That's all he's ever wanted to do. He wants to play, and he wants to win. That's what drives him."

Swing Doctor Needed?

Robinson does not think the dip in catcher Brian Schneider's offensive production indicates any serious flaws, but he believes Schneider might not be able to iron out his mechanical problems until after the season.

"What he's doing right now has become a good habit to him, and it's very difficult for him to get out of it right now," Robinson said. "All Schneider has to do is look at the DVDs and videos and stuff and understand that and get the feel and get back to it. . . . It's a very kind of simple thing to correct during the offseason."

Schneider, who batted .268 last year, is hitting .228, including .189 vs. left-handers.

Harris to Help Out

The Nationals added baseball's all-time leader in pinch hits to the organization by naming Lenny Harris a minor league roving instructor. Harris totaled 212 pinch hits.

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