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[March 16th] -- I'm getting tired of being right.

Remember that old joke about one brother telling his sister that their cat died, and the sister got very upset, saying that he should have broken the news to her gently .... that the cat was one the roof, and the fireman came to get the cat, that it fell, and it was going to be okay, but [sigh] it just didn't make it. The brother apologized and she forgave him. "So, how's Mom?" the sister asked. "She's on the roof" began the brother ....

Well, Cristian Guzman is on the roof.

Ten days ago, Guzman's shoulder was sore, but nothing so bad that a cortisone shot wouldn't take care of it. Yesterday, the team announced that he was to travel to Cincinnati so that Reds' team doctor Tim Krenchek could "assess" his situation. Today, mlb.com is leading with the headline, "Concern grows for ailing Guzman." Now we're told that a second cortisone shot didn't help. His agent says that every time he throws the ball, Guzman hears "something" that is causing problems when he throws and bats left-handed. " According to the article, "the MRI showed something inside the shoulder, but [the Nationals] don't want to draw any conclusions until after he goes to Cincinnati" said Guzman's agent. Jim Bowden said that he's "not a doctor" and that he wants to hear the second opinion before beginning to worry.

Worry, Jim. Worry.

Shoulder. Noise when he throws. Pain. MRI shows something. Hmmm ... doesn't this sound eerily familiar? Didn't some guy named Lawrence lose the entire 2006 season under this same scenario? Now, I'm not going to assume anything [Jose Guillen's plight comes to mind] but I'm thinking that Guzman is going to be out for some time.

So does Royce Clayton.

Clayton said he came to camp thinking he'd be the starting shortstop. "My approach hasn't changed in 15 years. It's not about to change now," Clayton said. "I'm healthy. That is the most important thing. I feel good out on the field. My legs are under me. I worked out all my aches and pains. Actually, I couldn't ask for a better spring." Well, we could. Although he's defending well, his batting average is a Guzman-like .206. He also said that team hasn't contacted him about sweetening his $1 million dollar contract if he makes the team. Oh, b-r-o-t-h-e-r.

I think it's obvious that Guzman's sub-par 2005 season was a result of whatever is ailing him now. He says he can't throw and can't bat right-handed. That was the problem last year; it's just gotten to the point where he can't even play badly any more.

Guzman's pending trip to the DL will likely mean that Brendan Harris will get a real shot to make the club, and if Clayton plays poorly out of the gate, look for Harris to be given a chance to play every day. This team isn't going to win any championships as assembled, and [hopefully] new ownership will ask Frank to play the kids.

P.M. UPDATE: A Nationals' press release indicates that Cristian Guzman has a "slap tear" and will be treated, at least initially, non-surgically, and will be side-lined for two weeks before being re-evaluated. A "SLAP tear" is an injury to the labrum, a part of the shoulder. Jon Rauch had a similar injury last year.

I can't tell you if this is a smoke screen.

Would the Nationals like to keep Guzman off the field for two weeks, giving Frank and Jim the opportunity to evaluate Royce Clayton with a better sampling of at-bats? And if Clayton plays well, would Guzman be shelved on the disabled list with another mysterious diagnosis?

I don't know. And I bet, neither do the Nationals.

Check it out - my buddy had a SLAP tear and he put up a website about it - www.slaptear.com.
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