About 11/2 hours before Friday's game, the door closed on the Nationals' clubhouse, and General Manager Jim Bowden walked in. The players looked up, what did he have? A trade? There are less than two days left before the trading deadline.
Quite the opposite as it turned out.
Rather, the general manager wanted to tell his team that a deal would not be coming.
Players said Bowden told them, "Look around this locker room. These are the guys we are going to war with."
He said the big trade had already been made when the team added outfielder Preston Wilson just after the all-star break.
"What's different about the first half?" he asked them. "We've got the same people here. . . . Why can't we do it?"
His words to the team mirrored, in many ways, those uttered by Manager Frank Robinson on Wednesday, when he challenged the players to start playing with more vigor and desire. The biggest difference is Bowden's message carried the extra news that the group will not be broken up.
After he left the clubhouse, Bowden said he has not been able to generate much trade interest because too many teams consider themselves playoff contenders and are reluctant to break up their teams. This means the few who are dealing are asking for a lot, such as the Devil Rays with Danys Baez.
Baseball sources say Bowden does not want to deal the few top prospects that teams have inquired about, such as Harrisburg pitcher Armando Galarraga and Potomac third baseman Kory Casto, because he doesn't want to repeat what the organization did in recent years in sending away players such as Grady Sizemore, Cliff Lee, Chris Young and Jason Bay in deals for major leaguers.
"It's unlikely we're going to do something significant to help this team win," Bowden said after the meeting.
He denied rumors that the team is working on a deal for Yankees infielder Tony Womack. The Tigers (looking to deal pitcher Jason Johnson and outfielder Rondell White) had a scout at Friday's game.