Lo Duca Goes On DL, Opens Spot for Hill

By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 19, 2008

MIAMI, April 18 -- The Washington Nationals knew they would have to move someone off their roster before Saturday's game here against the Florida Marlins, because right-hander Shawn Hill is set to come off the disabled list -- where he has been with forearm soreness -- and make his season debut.

The move, though, was crushing for catcher Paul Lo Duca, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list after Friday's 6-4 win because his bruised right hand -- on which he was hit by a pitch last Sunday -- is not improving. The move is retroactive to April 14.

"It's very frustrating," Lo Duca said. "Not being able to play is the worst thing. I hate it more than anything. I don't know what to do with myself on the bench, anyways. It's very difficult. It stinks."

Yet it was the only choice. Lo Duca tried to swing a bat again Friday, but even swinging at soft tosses in the batting cages caused him significant pain. "I just can't swing the bat aggressively," Lo Duca said.

For now, Johnny Estrada will continue to serve as the starting catcher, though Wil Nieves likely will be a late-inning replacement.

Hill Remains 'Optimistic' on Health

Hill, meanwhile, believes he still could make 30 starts this season -- even though injuries have never allowed him to make more than 25 in seven professional seasons. He said he can pitch through the forearm pain he is still experiencing.

"Based on how it feels now, if it doesn't get any worse, I can pitch this way the whole season," Hill said. "The reason I would be optimistic about it is each time I've gone out to throw, I've thrown another 15 pitches or whatever, and it's gotten less and less pain." . . .

Outfielder Elijah Dukes (strained right hamstring) and first baseman Dmitri Young (sprained lower back) will both travel to Viera, Fla., to continue rehabilitation at the club's complex there. Dukes left the team earlier in the week and spent some time in his home town of Tampa, where he is trying to get probation -- which stems from a misdemeanor marijuana charge last year -- reduced.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company