For weeks, Washington Nationals right fielder Jose Guillen tried to rehabilitate his left shoulder, which bothered him for the final three months of the season, in hopes that strengthening exercises would help him overcome a slight tear of his labrum. Friday, though, he had another examination in Miami, and the final decision was one he had anticipated. Guillen will have surgery tomorrow, though team doctors expect him to be ready for spring training.
"It was bothering me so much," Guillen said. "Like I said, I don't like to be making excuses. Sometimes, I played through injuries. And sometimes, I just think I got to be smarter. I like to play every day. But I just decided that, okay, I can't go.
"I heal pretty quick from some injuries, and this one, hopefully, is going to be that way because I really want to be ready by spring training."
The surgery will be performed by John Uribe in Miami, where Guillen spends much of his offseason. Bruce Thomas, the Nationals' team physician, said yesterday that it was hard for Uribe to determine the precise extent of the damage, an injury referred to as a "slap" tear of the labrum. But even in a worst-case scenario, Thomas said, Guillen is only likely to be out of action between six and 12 weeks.
"We wanted to give him a solid month in the offseason to see if the shoulder came around," Thomas said. "But as he got more intense with his work, the results were not good, and the decision sort of made itself. But I think everybody is comfortable that he'll be ready for spring training."
Guillen originally suffered the injury sliding into home plate in late June, and his drop-off in production was precipitous. Prior to the all-star break, he hit .310 and slugged .539 with 18 homers and 51 RBI. After the break, his batting average dropped to .246, his slugging percentage to .395 and he hit just six homers with 25 RBI.
"We just got to repair this stuff," Guillen said.
Guillen made his remarks at the Modell's Sporting Goods store in Springfield, where he appeared with reliever Gary Majewski to unveil the Nationals' new alternate uniforms. The jerseys, red with an interlocking "DC" logo on the front, closely resemble last year's batting practice jerseys and will be worn on most Sundays at home, accompanied by an all-red "DC" hat. The batting practice jerseys will now be blue, bearing the same "DC" logo, with a red-and-blue cap. Outfielder Marlon Byrd appeared at RFK Stadium to unveil the jerseys there.
Thomas also said that Nationals doctors, in consultation with Uribe, have agreed that second baseman Jose Vidro will not have surgery on his problematic right knee -- for now.
"We're going to go with conservative care," Thomas said. "He has an exercise program, and a rehab guy working with him down there [at his home in Puerto Rico]. He really has to strengthen his quadriceps, and we want him to lose a little weight. But he's hitting it pretty hard four days a week, and everybody seems to be in agreement that surgery would put him behind."
The Nationals continue to await word not only of when they will get a new owner, but also the fate of General Manager Jim Bowden, who is due for a second interview with the Boston Red Sox. The ownership situation and Bowden's uncertain future continue to leave the fate of the Nationals' coaching staff, as well as Manager Frank Robinson, up in the air. Team president Tony Tavares said yesterday that a determination on Robinson and the coaching staff won't be made until it's clear whether Bowden is staying or going.