With Hill Out, Team Will Use Four Starters

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 25, 2008

VIERA, Fla., March 24 -- With Washington Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill on the disabled list to start the season, Manager Manny Acta confirmed Monday that the club plans to begin the year with a four-man rotation -- one that will almost certainly consist of lefties Odalis P┬┐rez and Matt Chico followed by right-handers Tim Redding and Jason Bergmann.

The plan calls for Hill, who is building up strength despite nagging soreness in his forearm, to make his debut April 13 at Nationals Park against Atlanta. It would also require two pitchers, likely Redding and Bergmann, to pitch on three days' rest once apiece, April 6 in St. Louis and April 7 against Florida in Washington.

Hill pitched two innings in a minor league game Monday, wearing down and allowing two runs in the second inning.

"I was more concerned with how I felt than the results," he said. "I felt much better than I expected to. It's still sore, but if it stays like this, I can pitch all year."

Hill will now pitch every fifth day in minor league games, which puts him on track for the 13th. Lefty John Lannan would likely get the spot if Hill has any setbacks -- which, given his history of injuries, wouldn't be surprising.

"I can't be very confident," Acta said. "His track record speaks for itself. I hope he gets better and pitches for us, but it is what it is."

Nats Host Dominican Teenager

The Nationals are scheduled to host a workout Tuesday morning for one of the top Latin American prospects available in this year's signing period, Dominican shortstop Alvaro Aristy, according to sources. Aristy, 16, is the only top international prospect to have secured a visa to travel to the United States and work out for clubs privately before the end of spring training. . . .

Redding, who came out of Sunday's start with back spasms, said a doctor's exam Monday showed no major problems. . . .

Bergmann gave up two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings in a 5-3 loss to Detroit on Monday, leaving his spring ERA at 2.41. Bergmann said he is relying more on his sinker in an effort to get more groundballs. He allowed only three fly balls to the outfield in 28 hitters Monday.

"Now I have a little bit more understanding of how my body's working with the sinker," he said. "I'm not trying to do too much with it. It's actually sinking."

© 2008 The Washington Post Company