By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 10, 2008
Right-hander Shawn Hill will indeed pitch on Sunday. It just won't be for the Washington Nationals.
Hill, the would-be Opening Night starter who spent the spring battling soreness in his forearm, got through a rehabilitation start for Class A Potomac on Tuesday night without incident. The Nationals, however, feel he needs one more minor league start.
"We want him to see better competition," Manager Manny Acta said. Prior to Tuesday, Hill had thrown only against young players in extended spring training. "And also, we want him to get his pitch count up," Acta said.
Hill threw 69 pitches in five shutout innings for Potomac, a performance Acta witnessed in person.
"I was very happy because of the fact that he was able to keep his velocity throughout the whole five innings," Acta said. "His stamina was good."
Hill said he felt no sharp pain during the outing, and his arm felt as it normally feels after he pitches. He said he is comfortable with the decision to make another minor league start, one in which he could throw 90 to 100 pitches.
"We're not in a rush," Hill said. "It's not going to hurt to go do one more."Estrada Activated
Catcher Johnny Estrada was activated late Tuesday night, but he will continue to rehabilitate his right elbow, in which he has tendinitis, at the major league level. With first baseman Dmitri Young on the disabled list with a sprained lower back, Acta said Estrada would serve in Young's role as a switch-hitting pinch hitter.
"It's still coming along," Estrada said. "It's come a long way since spring training. Once it gets loosened up, it's good. In cold weather, it's still a little stiff. But every day, it feels like it's getting stronger."
For the time being, Estrada will be used sparingly as a catcher, the main reason Jesús Flores remains on the roster. The Nationals are now considering sending Flores to Class AAA Columbus rather than Class AA Harrisburg, the original plan.
Acta said there was no timetable for Young's return, and that the first baseman, who has just two at-bats, was placed on the disabled list because he wasn't getting better.