Washington Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen said yesterday that an examination of his injured left shoulder by a specialist went well, and that he likely will need to rest more but won't require surgery that could have ended his season.

"Everything went great," Guillen said by telephone yesterday evening. "There's nothing more wrong. Everything is pretty good. I just got to keep getting treatment, and we'll see."

An MRI exam late Saturday night revealed that Guillen had, possibly, a small partial tear of his left rotator cuff. Yesterday, he flew to Birmingham for a checkup with renowned orthopedic specialist James Andrews.

Because no surgery will be required, Guillen said he could play "soon." General Manager Jim Bowden said, "I'd say three to seven days."

Bowden said Guillen might begin some light swinging in Houston, where the Nationals begin a crucial three-game series tonight.

"We have to see how it feels," Guillen said. "This is what I was hoping [for], but we'll have to see."

Because Guillen is likely to sit for the Houston series, rookie Brandon Watson likely will play right field and lead off against the Astros, who lead the Nationals by two games in the National League wild-card race.

Watson, who has not appeared in a major league game, was recalled from Class AAA New Orleans with the intent of providing a spark for Washington's moribund offense, which managed just five hits in each of the last two games.

"We didn't call him up here not to play," Manager Frank Robinson said.

Guillen, 29, has struggled with the shoulder injury since originally hurting it on June 26 while sliding against Toronto. As the problem flared up last week -- he repeatedly described the feeling as "dead," and said he couldn't drive the ball -- his struggles made him ineffective. His average -- as high as .316 on July 5 -- has fallen to .296. He still leads the Nationals with 19 home runs and 58 RBI, but he has only four RBI in his last 15 games.

Team Signs 16-Year-Old

The Nationals signed 16-year-old Dominican shortstop Frank Cruz, whom Bowden said projects like a third-round draft choice. The deal is a reflection of the club's increased efforts in Latin America. "Right now, people are getting to know us not only in the Dominican [Republic], but in Venezuela, Panama and Colombia," said Ismael Cruz, who runs the team's efforts in Latin America.

Good news for the Nationals: Outfielder Jose Guillen, who leads the team in home runs and RBI, does not need surgery on his injured left shoulder.