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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

Kearns Misses Game With A Sore Elbow, Is Day-to-Day

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By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, May 19, 2008

BALTIMORE, May18 -- Nationals right-fielder Austin Kearns was a late scratch from Sunday's starting lineup against the Baltimore Orioles because of a sore elbow. Manager Manny Acta said he considers the cleanup hitter day-to-day.

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Kearns said he felt pain for the first time in batting practice before Saturday's game, but didn't sit out that day and doesn't consider it serious.

"It just wasn't normal," he said. "Just give it a day and hopefully get some treatment and get back."

Kearns, who is batting .187 with three home runs and 16 RBI, said the elbow didn't impact his play Saturday, when he went 0 for 4 and struck out with the bases loaded in the eighth inning, with the Nationals trailing by one.

Acta agreed with that assessment and said it was his decision to keep Kearns out of Sunday's 2-1 win against the Orioles.

"He's a tough guy," Acta said. "He doesn't want to be out of it, but we thought that's the best thing for him."

Hill Could Be Skipped

After Shawn Hill continued to experience discomfort in his pitching elbow during Friday's start, the Nationals' brain trust has spent the past two days contemplating what to do with the right-hander's turn in the rotation, which is scheduled for Wednesday at home against Philadelphia.

"For the good of the kid, we're probably going to end up skipping him," Acta said. "We'll get together tomorrow and make that decision."

Acta said left-hander Matt Chico, who was moved to the bullpen after starting the season 0-5 with a 6.87 ERA, is a candidate to start in Hill's place. Hill, who gave up five runs, four of them earned, in five innings Friday, had fluid from the elbow drained Saturday and received a cortisone shot.

Asked if this was something Hill would have to deal with all season, Acta said: "There's a very good chance that that's going to be the situation because nothing has been found in the tests and he's going to have to pitch through pain." . . .

With Elijah Dukes on second base and two outs in the seventh inning, catcher Wil Nieves hit a soft liner to right field that glanced off of the glove of Orioles' second baseman Brian Roberts. Even with Dukes running on contact, Orioles' right-fielder Nick Markakis threw him out at the plate.

"We want him to [score] but you've got to give credit to Markakis," Acta said. "He's got a great arm. He's one of those guys that, coming into this series in our meeting, we knew a guy like him could do those types of things."


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