Hill to Get 2nd Opinion On Elbow

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 31, 2007

Washington Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill, who is on the disabled list with a bad left shoulder, will travel to Cleveland today to get a second opinion on his balky right elbow, a development that delays his return.

Hill, who will see orthopedist Mark Schickendantz, injured his left shoulder diving back into third base April 20 at Florida, then aggravated it May 1 while covering first base in San Diego. He believes his pitching elbow flared up because he altered his mechanics to deal with the shoulder.

"I'm not worried," Hill said. "It's more just a question in my mind how long it's going to take for it to calm down completely so that it'll be okay. I don't think it's anything serious. I think it's either . . . scar tissue, or I just ticked it off basically because the stress I was putting it under" because of his altered mechanics.

General Manager Jim Bowden said the team doesn't want to rush Hill back given that he could be an important player in coming years. He missed the 2004 season after ligament replacement surgery in the elbow.

"It's a double-check, triple-check, [being] cautious of our future," Bowden said. "We think Shawn is part of our future. Given the year that we're having as a team, we want to make sure that he's okay in the future. So we're just being cautious."

Hill is 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA in eight starts. His last appearance came May 11, when he threw five no-hit innings against Florida before coming out with soreness in the elbow.

Chico Moved Up

The team will move left-hander Matt Chico up to start tomorrow's series opener against Jake Peavy and the Padres, so now it is looking for a starter for Saturday. Bowden said right-hander Joel Hanrahan, who was coming off a groin problem for Class AAA Columbus, struggled with his control, walking four in a three-inning stint Monday.

"He didn't quite have the command in the zone -- or out of the zone -- that he would have liked," Bowden said.

Still, it appears Hanrahan is a candidate to take the spot of Levale Speigner, the converted reliever who has a 14.81 ERA in three starts. "Everybody's a candidate," Bowden said. "Everybody's always a candidate." . . .

Reliever Luis Ayala threw a bullpen session yesterday afternoon and pronounced himself "100 percent." He likely will head to Class A Potomac on a rehabilitation assignment, and Bowden said he expects Ayala -- who hasn't pitched since 2005 because of elbow surgery -- to take the full 30 days before returning to the majors.

"I'm not ready right now," Ayala said. "I'm very close."

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