With the Washington Nationals holding only the faintest hopes of reaching the postseason, Manager Frank Robinson said he might look at some of the team's inexperienced players. Of particular interest: infielders Ryan Zimmerman and Rick Short.
Zimmerman, the team's first pick in this year's draft, will compete for a spot on next year's team even though he doesn't turn 21 until Sunday. He is hitting .353 with four doubles in 17 at-bats.
Zimmerman's potential is unquestioned. But a more intriguing prospect for next year could be Short, who at 32 is finally getting his first chance in the majors. He has four hits in 10 at-bats, including solo homers off Florida's Dontrelle Willis and Atlanta's John Smoltz, but hasn't appeared in a game since Sept. 13.
"Let's see what has kept this guy where he's been," Robinson said, referring to Short's long minor league career. "Is he a usable part for next year?"
Short said he understood why, to this point, he hasn't gotten much of a chance.
"It's nice to get up here and see what major league baseball is all about," Short said. "I have confidence I can play here. But given the situation that we came into, being in the middle of a pennant race . . . we understood our playing time was going to be kind of sparse."
The other player who may see some time is outfielder Brandon Watson, who has six hits in 30 at-bats this season.
"Sooner or later, Zimmerman's going to start three or four ballgames in a row, and Short may start two or three, Watson one or two," Robinson said. "But basically, you're going to see the same guys that have been here finish out the season."
The Nationals named third baseman Kory Casto and former George Washington player Michael O'Connor as their minor league player and pitcher of the year, respectively. Casto, 23, hit .290 with 36 doubles, 22 homers and 90 RBI in 135 games for Class A Potomac. O'Connor, a 25-year-old from Ellicott City, went 10-11 with a 3.54 ERA for Potomac.