Nationals Notebook

Pitcher Hill Could Debut On Saturday

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, April 16, 2008

NEW YORK, April 15 -- The Washington Nationals are hoping right-hander Shawn Hill will make his season debut Saturday in Florida against the Marlins, though General Manager Jim Bowden said the plan hadn't been finalized.

"We'll make sure the week goes well and make a decision at the end of the week," Bowden said. "But tentatively, I think that's what we're looking at."

Hill, who has been battling soreness in his forearm since spring training, made a six-inning, 89-pitch rehabilitation start Sunday for Class AAA Columbus. He said Monday, when he rejoined the Nationals at Shea Stadium for a series against the New York Mets, that his forearm is still tight, but he feels he can pitch through it.

"It's the same thing at this point, but it has gotten better each time out," Hill said. "And I'm throwing more and more each time, so it's not going away, but it is improving. I'm not bothered by it right now."

If Hill does not pitch in the majors Saturday, the Nationals will have to call up another starter; they have just four with the demotion of Jason Bergmann over the weekend.

Honoring Robinson

All uniformed personnel Tuesday at Shea -- players and coaches -- wore No. 42 in honor of Jackie Robinson Day, which marked the 61st anniversary of Robinson breaking the color barrier by debuting with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

"It's a huge deal," Nationals pitcher Ray King said. "I'm glad everybody's wearing it. It shows unification of the respect that this guy brought to the game and an understanding of why, when and what has happened." . . .

Manager Manny Acta said that with Chad Cordero now active, his bullpen has returned to its normal order, with Cordero the closer and Jon Rauch the setup man. But there remain concerns about Cordero's velocity, which has been low all spring.

"Chad's back closing games," Acta said. "We'll take that day-by-day. We all know that he's not still throwing the velocity we want to see him throw, but hey, he's ready to go. Pain-free, so he's back at it."

Cordero, who pitched two-thirds of an inning Sunday, said his arm still feels fine.

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