Hill Focused On Results, Not Return

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 28, 2006

TORONTO, June 27 -- Shawn Hill grew up in Mississauga, Ontario, perhaps 30 minutes from Toronto's Rogers Center, and his earliest baseball memories include rooting for the Blue Jays as an 8-year-old in 1989. It would seem, then, that his start for the Washington Nationals near his home town would be a marquee event.

"There's a little significance to this," Hill said Tuesday. "But not a whole lot."

The way Hill figures it, he has been through more important events to get to this point. He blew out his right elbow in 2004, had ligament replacement surgery, then pitched his way back into the majors this season -- ahead of schedule.

Hill, 25, also has had the honor of pitching for his country in the Olympics, which he did in 2004 in Athens. So pitching in front of the 50 or 60 family members that will likely be here Wednesday? Yes, his grandparents will get to see him pitch in the majors for the first time. But other than that, no big deal.

Of more importance will be how he pitches. Hill joined the rotation on May 27, and in his first four starts he allowed seven earned runs in 26 innings. But his last outing was statistically horrible, a 5 2/3 -inning stint against Boston in which he allowed eight earned runs.

"I don't look at it as a bad outing," Manager Frank Robinson said. "But I'm sure that leaves a very bad thought in his head."

Hill, though, said he studied video of that game. "A lot of the pitches they were getting me on were not that bad," he said. Still, he considers his next start a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately kind of thing." When Tony Armas Jr. returns from the disabled list, the Nationals will have six starters.

Travel Troubles

When Tuesday's lineup originally was posted in the Nationals clubhouse, Daryle Ward was listed as the designated hitter and cleanup man. Problem: Ward was in Washington. His flight to Toronto left from Reagan National Airport, but he mistakenly drove to Dulles. He tried to take a later flight, then was delayed by weather. Ward arrived around 7:30 p.m. for a 7:07 start.

Reliever Mike Stanton missed the game because he was delayed by weather leaving his home in New Jersey. Both players were permitted to fly separately from the team -- which flew up Sunday night -- so they could spend time with their families. Robinson, though, said both will be fined.

"This is still my job," Ward said, "and I'm supposed to be here."

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