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NATIONALS NOTEBOOK

With Hill Ailing, Chico Will Get Another Start

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By Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Matt Chico failed as a starter. He excelled, albeit briefly, as a reliever. Tomorrow, he'll return to the rotation -- hoping for completely different results.

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With right-hander Shawn Hill's elbow still causing him problems -- he said yesterday that he "feels the same," even after a cortisone shot last Friday -- Chico will take Hill's spot in the rotation for one turn -- at least -- against the Philadelphia Phillies.

"Hopefully, he's relaxed enough now," Manager Manny Acta said of Chico, who went 0-5 with a 6.87 ERA as a starter, but allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings pitched over three relief appearances. That was the idea when Chico was demoted from the rotation after his seventh start, May 3.

"I felt like I've found myself a little bit as far as it made me realize how much I was pressing before," Chico said. "Just getting out there and relaxing and throwing the ball and not worrying about who's up at the plate or trying to do too much, it's really helped me calm down a little bit and get back to where I want to be."

Opposing batters hit .320 and slugged .568 off Chico the starter, just .240 and .320, respectively, off Chico the reliever. Acta said Hill almost certainly will miss only one start.

Belliard Goes on DL

Infielder Ronnie Belliard was placed on the disabled list with a strained left calf muscle, retroactive to last Friday, following last night's 4-0 victory over the Phillies. He suffered the injury last week, but he aggravated it yesterday in pregame warm-ups. The club is expected to call up reliever Chris Schroder today to take Belliard's spot. . . .

Acta spent part of yesterday donating 180 pairs of cleats to local high school teams through a donation from Under Armour to his foundation, impActa Kids.

Acta's foundation, formed this offseason, has initially done more work in his homeland.

"I'm part of this community, too," Acta said. "I didn't want people to think my foundation is all about the Dominican Republic."


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