At just after 4 p.m. the door to Suite 301A at Dolphins Stadium opened and out came Nationals General Manager Jim Bowden with his arms spread wide.
"No, we didn't" make a deal, he said.
And thus the trade deadline passed with Washington doing much what everybody else in the league did. Nothing.
"We weren't going to give up our farm system and not get either a number one or two starter or a bat in the middle of the order who could do damage," he said. "Nobody got one of those."
Like many baseball executives, Bowden was surprised at the lack of action in the hours before the non-waiver trade deadline.
"Contending teams were asking about our prospects," he said. "I never heard that one before."
Marlon Byrd's playing time had dwindled to almost nothing so it probably wasn't a great surprise that he was demoted to Class AAA New Orleans on Sunday. Still the outfielder took it hard, saying nothing as Manager Frank Robinson called him into his office to deliver the news.
Not that Byrd hadn't probably already figured it out when Matt Cepicky walked into the clubhouse just up from New Orleans, but his defiance seemed to disturb Robinson.
"He had an attitude when he came in, had an attitude in here and he had an attitude when he left," Robinson said as he sat in his office before the game.
Byrd immediately left the manager's office, packed his locker and was gone in 10 minutes without making a comment. His performance had tailed off considerably since the first few weeks after he was traded from Philadelphia on May 14, and he was in a 5-for-38 slump. Byrd had taken extra batting practice to work on hitting inside pitches, but the coaches were frustrated that he never made the adjustments he needed.
"I think he has to make some adjustments to his mechanics," Robinson said.
Robinson thinks Cepicky might be more comfortable pinch-hitting than Ryan Church, who appears to be the fourth outfielder now that the plan to rotate four outfielders for three positions has been abandoned. In nine games before the all-star break, Cepicky hit .278 with an RBI.
Lineup: Take Four
For the second day in the row, injuries forced Robinson and bench coach Eddie Rodriguez to scramble to remake the lineup card. This time they made three versions within an hour. Second baseman Jose Vidro sat for the second straight day, bothered by a pulled leg muscle. Third baseman Vinny Castilla, who has struggled, also rested.
Then, not long before the team was to take the field, Robinson learned that catcher Brian Schneider had a sore knee and would not be able to catch. Robinson crumpled up lineup number three and tossed it in the trash behind him.