Hill: More Surgery, More Questions

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NEW YORK, Sept. 25 -- A day before he has surgery on his right elbow -- the first of two operations he will undergo in a two-week span -- Washington Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill said he doesn't consider the injuries a sign that he will be unhealthy throughout his career. But he also understands, given that he has never started more than 25 games in a professional season, there will be questions about his durability.

"It happened with [Nationals right-hander John] Patterson, too, when he came back and got hurt again," Hill said in a telephone interview Tuesday. "And the fans, of course, could jump on the bandwagon and say, 'Can we count on these guys?' It's understandable. The only way to prove them wrong is go out and make 30 starts and put up the numbers."

Hill, 26, appeared on his way to putting up numbers before left shoulder and right elbow problems limited him to 16 major league starts this year. His surgery, which will decompress the radial nerve as well as clean out any residual scar tissue from his ligament replacement surgery in 2004, is scheduled for 5 p.m. Wednesday at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Northwest Washington. It will be performed by Nationals team orthopedist Ben Shaffer in conjunction with upper extremity specialist Richard Barth.

Though General Manager Jim Bowden said Hill should "absolutely" be ready for spring training, Hill is cautious. "We'll see," he said. But he endorsed having the elbow surgery -- given that he had to have his left shoulder, which he called the "only serious problem," operated on.

"The point is, because I'm having the surgery done, it makes sense to do anything else now, and hopefully create a positive effect next year for the [right] arm," he said, "as opposed to just forgetting about it and hoping it goes away. If there's anything there, we want to nip it in the bud."

Hanrahan to Miss Pitching Start

The Nationals will skip Joel Hanrahan's final turn in the rotation. That sets up the rotation for the final series in Philadelphia -- which could have playoff implications -- as Tim Redding on Friday, followed by Matt Chico and Jason Bergmann.

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