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No Structural Damage Seen In Hill's Arm

By Chico Harlan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 26, 2008

An examination yesterday of Washington Nationals pitcher Shawn Hill found no evidence of structural damage in his right arm. Though Hill likely won't need surgery before being given a chance to return to the rotation, he will require plenty of rest.

Hill traveled after his start Tuesday against the Los Angeles Angels to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., where doctors performed a bone scan and an MRI exam. It was determined that rest was required, followed by a rehab and throwing program.

All season, Hill has struggled with forearm problems, and his control has weakened as a result. The doctors attributed Hill's pain to "irritation of the forearm muscles," a team statement said.

Given his performance in his last three starts -- in which batters have a .492 average against him -- the team decided that Hill needed medical attention, not further opportunity to pitch his way through pain.

The Nationals had no estimate of how much time Hill will miss, though he almost certainly will be placed on the disabled list.

Columbus pitchers Garrett Mock and Tyler Clippard, both of whom have pitched for Washington this season, are among the most likely replacements.

Nationals Manager Manny Acta said another of the team's top pitching prospects, 22-year-old Collin Balester, also at Columbus, would come to the majors only if the Nationals thought it would be for a prolonged period. In other words: no spot starts.

Lo Duca's Outfield Disaster

Of all the strange variables Acta tempted when he placed a catcher, Paul Lo Duca, in left field to start Tuesday's game, the resulting scenario was even stranger than imagination. Lo Duca's first foray in the outfield with the Nationals included a first-inning error, a second-inning trip to the hospital and, yesterday, an explanation.

All day Tuesday, Lo Duca had minor stomach issues. But in the middle of the second inning -- when Washington already trailed 6-0 -- he felt the stadium spinning. He felt nauseous. Lo Duca was pulled from the game and taken to the clubhouse, where, he said, he remembered little.

"A lot of guys said my eyes looked like they would pop out of my head," he said.

"They pumped two IVs in me, and I had, like, sort of a food poisoning gastro thing," Lo Duca said. "I forget what they called it. I got home about midnight." . . .

Right fielder Austin Kearns, recovering from right elbow surgery, today will join low-Class A Hagerstown, where team officials expect him to DH. "So he can get his timing at the plate," Acta said.

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