Notes: Robinson stands by Guzman

Notes: Robinson stands by Guzman

ATLANTA -- It appears that Nationals manager Frank Robinson will stick with Cristian Guzman as the starting shortstop despite his season-long slump.

Entering Thursday's action, Guzman was hitting .181 with three home runs and 13 RBIs and 1-for-33 during the second half of the season. Guzman was in the starting lineup against the Braves on Thursday.

When asked how long he is going to stick with Guzman as the starting shortstop, Robinson said he doesn't have a set date as to when he might bench him.

"I don't set time limits. If I feel like it's time to take somebody out of the lineup, I'll take him out," Robinson said.

Being patient with slumping players has been a signature characteristic for Robinson since taking over with the Expos. In 2003, Robinson continued to use reliever Hector Almonte during the Wild Card race even though Almonte was often hit hard.

Last season, Robinson might have been justified in stripping Rocky Biddle of the closer's role on May 11, when he blew a 5-1 lead against the Brewers. But Robinson stuck with Biddle until June 7.

Asked why it takes him so long to cut the cord on slumping players, Robinson said, "You can't do that with players. How can you have a 25-man roster and take a person out that started for you, sit him down and forget about him? You can't do that. If you do that, you might as well get rid of the player."

The Commissioner's in town: Commissioner Bud Selig said on Thursday that he hopes that to have an ownership group in place for the Nationals by the end of the summer.

Eight ownership groups have placed deposits of $100,000 with the Commissioner's Office and have filed bids. All eight met last month with the ownership subcommittee that is trying to narrow the list. The Nationals are currently owned by Major League Baseball.

"There are eight ownership groups that are doing their due diligence," said Selig, who was in Atlanta to kick off the 2005 Commissioner's Initiative For Kids courtesy of Ameriquest. "They are all very active and I know that our people are spending a lot of time. I'm hopeful before the summer is over that there will be an owner in Washington. There will be an owner of the Washington Nationals and the happiest guy will be the Commissioner of baseball."

Selig said that baseball hasn't yet reached the stage of narrowing the list of candidates.

"The process is intense and very much ongoing," Selig said.

Did you know? The last time the Nationals franchise won a season series against the Braves was in 2000, when the Expos won seven out of 13 games.

Difference of opinion: In the sixth inning of Thursday's game, the Nationals had runners on first and second with no one out, when Vinny Castilla came to the plate and bunted the ball toward the pitcher's mound. Catcher Brian McCann fielded the ball and threw to Chipper Jones at third base for the force out. Jose Guillen then took a page from Ty Cobb and slid hard into the bag as Jones tumbled over Guillen.

After the play ended, Guillen held on to Jones to apologize. Jones felt Guillen was admitting that he committed a dirty play.

"I thought the play was uncalled for," Jones said. "I understand he plays hard, but I was blind to the play. I didn't see him coming. I didn't know what hit me at that particular time. I turned around and I asked him what [was] up and he started apologizing. Obviously, he thought it was dirty."

But Guillen thought nothing of the sort. He simply said he was not trying to hurt Jones on the play.

"I was trying to break the double play," Guillen said. "Next time when the play happens, I'll go even harder and that way he will say it was a dirty play. I apologized to him because I saw where his arm caught my spike. I tried to be nice because he's one of the nicest guys in baseball. But if he wants me to be a dirty player, I can be that way, too."

Stat of the day: Entering Thursday's action, catcher Brian Schneider was hitting .326 (44-for-135) with four home runs and 17 RBIs since the beginning of June. Schneider is also tied with Guillen for the team lead with nine game-winning game hits.

On deck: The Nationals fly to Miami to play a three-game series against the Marlins at Dolphins Stadium starting Friday night. The last time the two teams met was on June 3-5, when the Nationals swept the three-game set.

Nationals right-hander Tony Armas Jr. will get the start in Game 1. He is looking to win his third consecutive decision. Armas will face the Marlins for the 13th time in his career; he's 3-8 with a 5.07 ERA against them lifetime.

In his last start, Armas pitched seven solid innings and gave up two runs on one hit to lead the Nats to a 4-2 victory over the Astros.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.