Vidro Is Back, Hoping to Stay Healthy

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 19, 2006

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 18 -- Second baseman Jose Vidro returned to the Washington Nationals on Friday with a Harrisburg Senators cap tucked in his locker, a memento from his rehabilitation stint in the minor leagues. Vidro's focus, after spending a month on the disabled list with a strained hamstring, is to finish the last six weeks of the season as a healthy and productive player so he can establish momentum for next season -- whether he's with the Nationals or not.

"I've just got to play," Vidro said. "That's just the way it is. There's always a lot of people talking, but I know that I have to play out there, and I haven't been able to have any luck with my legs."

The Nationals, with an eye on the future, would like to move Vidro, who is signed through 2008. They have two other middle infielders -- Felipe Lopez and Cristian Guzman -- under their control for next season. But Vidro figures that with the questions about his health, he couldn't be traded even if he passes through waivers, and he even talked about it with General Manager Jim Bowden last week.

"It looks like I'm going to stay here," he said. "I got to prove that I'm healthy enough for a team to basically want to have interest in me. Right now, I just had a month on the DL, and it's tough to trade a guy like that."

Vidro hit fifth Friday night, the first time he had hit lower than third all season, and went 2 for 5 in the 6-4 victory over Philadelphia.

Kearns Rides the Pine

One regular not in the lineup Friday against the Philadelphia Phillies was slumping right fielder Austin Kearns, in a 3-for-25 skid that dropped his average to .264, just .234 in 30 games since arriving in a trade from Cincinnati.

"I don't like them," Kearns said of days off. "It's not my decision. I'd like to keep playing."

He pinch-hit in the eighth inning, striking out, and remained in the game in right field.

Kearns has been working on some mechanical changes at the behest of Manager Frank Robinson, who said, "When you've been doing something for so long, it's hard to just change."

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