Hill's elbow OK (and other topics)

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Sorry for the lack of blogging today—I was pretty swamped both with some stuff for the paper tomorrow and for our baseball preview section in a couple weeks—but I just wanted to pass along an update on Shawn Hill’s elbow.

The right-hander, you’ll recall, was meeting with Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., today after being scratched from his Thursday start. Hill started feeling some elbow pain on Tuesday after throwing a bullpen session the day before, but Andrews only found inflammation. He saw no structural damage to Hill’s elbow, and prescribed some anti-inflammatory medication that should have Hill throwing again in a few days.

The big story of the day here was Daniel Cabrera’s first appearance against his old team, and the big right-hander didn’t fare particularly well in a 6-2 loss. He gave up one run on four hits while walking two in two innings. He was scheduled to go three, but hit his 50-pitch limit at the end of the second and would have been pulled at the end of that inning had he not struck out Nick Markakis to end it. Manny Acta talked at length before the game about how pitching coach Randy St. Claire is trying to get Cabrera to stride further toward home plate. That does a couple things. First, for the 6-foot-9 Cabrera, it will help him keep his balance better as he extends toward home. Second, a long stride takes precious time away for hitters to read a pitch and react to it—that’s one of the reasons why San Francisco’s Tim Lincecum is so tough.

The big story of the game, other than Cabrera, was Roger Bernadina, who went 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles and made two sensational catches in left field. The Nationals implored Bernadina to shorten his swing after he struggled in a brief major league appearance last June, and it appears he’s done that, after a lot of work both last year and this year with hitting coach Rick Eckstein, who was with Class AAA Columbus last season. Acta said Bernadina has a shot to make the team because of the way he plays all three outfield spots and his improved offense. Tough to see it happening with all the Nats’ outfielders, but if he keeps up the offensive production, Bernadina could be a nice backup and occasional top-of-the-order guy.

“Usually, that’s what guys do. They either play themselves out of camp, or they play that way and make our decision tougher,” Acta said.

OK, that’s all from here. Gotta start the three-hour drive back up I-95. Talk to you tomorrow from Port St. Lucie.

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