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Riggleman Would Like To Keep Players in Place

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 30, 2009

MILWAUKEE, July 29 -- In the final hours leading to Friday's 4 p.m. trade deadline, the Washington Nationals can explore several options. They can deal centerpiece players like Adam Dunn or Josh Willingham (unlikely). They can deal complementary players like Joe Beimel or Willie Harris (quite possible). Or, they can deal almost nobody, and maintain the architecture of a team that has only recently has looked coherent.

On Wednesday, interim manager Jim Riggleman -- who has orchestrated the Nationals' recent run of promising play -- expressed hope that his team's core remains intact through the rest of the season. "My first priority," he said, "is that we keep this group together and see what we can do with them."

"From an emotional side," he added, "you don't want to lose any of them, because they start to jell a little bit and you feel close to them. Personally, I don't think we're going to lose them, I really don't. I think that we've seen some trades made in the last few days that would probably lower the chances of our guys getting traded but I don't really anticipate losing anybody."

Rijo Enters New Arena

Only five months ago, José Rijo was fired from his front-office job with the Nationals. The Dominican baseball academy he ran had produced a $1.4 million prospect with a forged identity. Federal investigators sought to determine whether Rijo, or those connected to his operation, had skimmed money from prospects. The Nationals were so eager to break ties with Rijo that they ordered a complete overhaul of their Dominican program.

For Rijo, an unlikely career has followed scandal. Now, he's an aspiring politician. According to recent news accounts, Rijo is running for mayor in his home town of San Cristobal. Almost every day, he campaigns door-to-door, greeting people in the barrios, gathering on the street corners, reveling in a town where he is still known only as a magnanimous former big leaguer.

"Here, he's been somewhat humiliated," a source close to Rijo said, "but down there [in the Domincan] he's still like the Godfather, larger than life."

Rijo's opponent for the mayoral seat is another former big leaguer, Raul Mondesi.

Tavárez Clears Waivers

Julián Tavárez, designated for assignment by the Nationals on July 20, has cleared waivers and is now a free agent. . . . Outfielder Corey Patterson, who had a brief stint in Washington earlier this season (five games, 2 for 15), was released while with Class AAA Syracuse, opening a spot on the 40-man roster.

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