This offseason, new general manager Jim Bowden signed free-agent shortstop Cristian Guzman and third baseman Vinny Castilla and traded for talented but volatile outfielder Jose Guillen.

They'll join an offense that includes three-time All Star second baseman Jose Vidro and left fielder Brad Wilkerson, who hit 32 homers in 2004.

Workhorse Livan Hernandez, one of baseball's most durable pitchers, leads the starting rotation. Behind him, however, the Nationals have enigmatic right-hander Esteban Loaiza, injured Tony Armas and three other starters coming off injury-shortened seasons: Zach Day, Tomo Ohka and John Patterson.

At least the pitchers aren't too concerned about playing at RFK Stadium, which hasn't hosted a regular-season baseball game since the Washington Senators left for Texas after the 1971 season.

Robinson said RFK won't be much different from what it was when he visited there with the Orioles in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

"If you don't make your pitches, it's going to hurt you. If you make your pitches, you are going to get hitters out," Robinson said. "It's a good ballpark. It's a fair ballpark."

Robinson, who turns 70 in August, hasn't talked much to his players about his own experiences at RFK. If he did, though, they would listen.

"He knows a lot," said closer Chad Cordero, 23, who anchors a strong bullpen. "He has confidence in guys, too, whether it's a young guy coming up or an older guy. ... He'll stick with them. That helps a player a lot. It helps you try that much harder."

Robinson won't predict how the Nationals will fare in a difficult NL East that includes the powerful Atlanta Braves, the Florida Marlins, the Philadelphia Phillies and an improved New York Mets.

But he vows his team will play hard for its new fan base.

"The mood itself is more upbeat, now that we are looking forward to something, and that something is Washington, D.C.," Robinson said. "[The fans] are talking about how eager they are for the season to start, and the players feed off of that.

"And now they are very excited about it and are eager to get to Washington to get started."