Lannan Gets Unexpected Start Today

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, April 6, 2008

ST. LOUIS, April 5 -- John Lannan knew he would be pitching Sunday, but until Thursday, he assumed it would be for the Class AAA Columbus Clippers. The parent Washington Nationals, however, had a plan all along -- Lannan would pitch in the majors on Sunday in St. Louis, a solution to a problem that began with right-hander Shawn Hill's season-opening stint on the disabled list.

"I feel great," Lannan said. "Just another opportunity."

Though Lannan, 23, was the Nationals' best starting pitcher in the spring, he lost out to fellow left-hander Matt Chico for a spot on the major league club. Now, there's no telling when -- or if -- he'll get back to the minors.

With Tuesday's off day, Manager Manny Acta said he would not skip anyone in the rotation, rather pushing everyone back a day. Hill, out with persistent soreness in his right forearm, is scheduled to pitch Tuesday for Class A Potomac, and had been eyeing an April 13 return to the major league rotation. He left his rehabilitation stint in Viera, Fla., on Saturday and drove north.

Acta, though, said Hill's plans to pitch in the majors weren't final.

"We feel that he needs to be stretched out, [so] that he can go long enough for us not to overwork our bullpen," Acta said. "And also -- effectiveness. He also has to show over there that he's fine, that he's healthy."

Lannan's second start would fall next Saturday against Atlanta. If Hill could pitch Sunday and Lannan pitches well, it's possible Chico could be optioned to Columbus.

Lannan went 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in six starts for the Nationals in 2007.

Injection for Young

First baseman Dmitri Young received an injection Saturday morning from team orthopedist Ben Shaffer in the latest attempt to relieve swelling and tightness in Young's back. Young, who traveled back to Washington and was not scheduled to return to St. Louis, will miss two to three more days, but at this point is not likely to go on the disabled list.

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