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04/17/08 8:03 PM ET

Former skipper Robinson visits Nats

Hall of Famer has confidence that team will erase slow start

NEW YORK -- Baseball Hall of Famer and former Nationals manager Frank Robinson was at Shea Stadium on Thursday afternoon, and he paid a visit to his former team.

Robinson greeted everybody on the team and had lengthy conversations with first baseman Nick Johnson and manager Manny Acta. Robinson also watched the team take batting practice.

Robinson, who works in the Commissioner's office, watches the Nationals on TV often. He believes his former ballclub will turn things around. The Nationals are 4-11 entering Thursday's action, but Robinson said it's too early to panic.

"You have a tendency to get uptight when you start off this way," Robinson said. "Everybody likes to start off good, but if you are going to have these little ruts, this is a good time to have it. They have a lot of room in front of them to correct the problem. They should be all right."

Robinson is happy to report that he is in good health. He had neck surgery six weeks ago to repair nerve damage when he was starting to lose feeling in his hands. The surgery fixed the problem for the most part, although he is still having some problems with two of the fingers on his left hand. The doctors told Robinson it could take two years before those two fingers are 100 percent.

Asked if he felt the damage came from his playing days, Robinson said: "Some of it, not all of it. People have this same problem and they don't play sports. You can't blame it all on baseball."

Robinson managed the Nationals/Expos for five years and guided them to records of .500 or better in three of those years. The team was in the Wild Card hunt in 2003 and 2005 under Robinson.

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