After spring training, and during the first month of the season, Washington Nationals second baseman Jose Vidro had just one thought.
"I really thought," he said, "this was going to be my year. There was no doubt about that."
As it turned out, it has been anything but. Vidro, who worked to come back from knee surgery last September, has played just 86 games this season. He missed two months with tendon damage in his left ankle, and has battled two strained quadriceps, as well as a bad knee, for much of the second half of the season. It all has Vidro, a career .302 hitter, wishing for the end of the year.
"I'd have to say, easily, it's been my worst year," Vidro said. "Not because of the stats. Just because all the time that I spend not on the field. It is frustrating. There's times that I was trying to push myself harder to do like I did before, and I can't.
"I just really can't wait for this week to be over. I want to go home and relax my mind. I just got to get out of this game right now for my health."
Vidro, who didn't start for the fourth straight game in yesterday's 6-5 loss to the New York Mets, had a pinch-hit single in his only at-bat. He is hitting .276 with seven homers and 32 RBI, by far his worst statistics since he became an everyday player in 1999.
Vidro said he would tailor his offseason workouts to his particular situation, cutting down on his swings but working on the strength in his legs. Asked if Vidro, 31, still has good years ahead if he's healthy, Nationals Manager Frank Robinson said: "Absolutely. No question."
But Robinson knows Vidro has been but a fraction of the hitter he was for much of his time in Montreal, when he made three all-star teams. Now, he is already adjusting his goals for 2006.
"I want it to be over with and just clear my head," Vidro said, "not because I don't want to be here, but just because I want to forget about everything that happened to me this year. I put it in my head to be comeback player of the year next year. That's my goal.
"I just want to be the player that I was a couple years ago. If I stay healthy, I'm going to do that."
Robinson Will Set Schedules
Robinson said yesterday that he won't leave it up to his starters, including Esteban Loaiza, whether they will make one or two more starts the rest of the way.
Loaiza, scheduled to pitch Tuesday, had said he would start just once more this season. But if the rotation remains the same, Loaiza would be scheduled to pitch the final game of the season, Sunday, against Philadelphia.