NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

After False Start, Hill Gets Back On the Mound

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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 15, 2007

MIAMI, July 14 -- The last time Washington Nationals pitcher Shawn Hill threw off a mound in late May, his strained left shoulder felt stiff at the start of the session and he paid the price, tweaking the injury and setting back his rehabilitation.

When Hill takes the mound here Sunday morning for the first time since that ill-advised session, he expects much better results. Unlike back then, Hill said his shoulder is pain-free.

"This time, I'm fine so far," Hill said before the Nationals' game Saturday against the Florida Marlins. "It's just a matter of whether anything will flare up when I throw off the mound. . . . I'm going to want to throw hard to test it a little bit, but at the same time I don't need to air it out."

Hill, who was 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA in eight starts before going on the disabled list May 14, said he hopes to throw 30 to 35 pitches at perhaps 85 to 90 percent of his usual velocity during Sunday's bullpen session. If it goes well, he said he would throw again Tuesday or Wednesday, then pitch live batting practice a few days after that.

In short, Hill sees an end to a rehabilitation that began after he injured the shoulder diving back to third base in a game in April. He hopes to be back in action by the end of July or early August.

"It will be nice to finally get back off a mound," he said.

Schneider Plays Through the Pain

The first thing catcher Brian Schneider did after he got out of bed Saturday morning was flex his right knee. He examined it closely. He determined it was fine.

Then he promptly called the Nationals' trainer to confirm what he suspected the night before: He was ready and able to start Saturday's game.

Schneider collapsed in agony after taking a foul ball off his knee during Friday's 14-10 Nationals victory, then left the game two innings later. But the knee, which was iced and treated with electrical stimulation, merely was stiff and bruised, he said.

"It's one of those things you have to deal with," Schneider said. "It's not going to be good, but it's definitely doable for sure."


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