It was as if no one actually wanted to speak his name this spring, fearing that doing so would somehow lead to arm problems. The Washington Nationals were doing all they could to hold back the hope that Shawn Hill could actually be healthy this season, because the prospects of that meant some crazy speculation.
Now, though, it is business as usual. Hill is going to visit arm specialist Dr. James Andrews for forearm tightness, a chronic problem for the pitcher who may never have the chance to really show what he can do.
A healthy Hill changed the whole pitching equation for the Nationals. A healthy Hill becomes their number one pitcher. A healthy Hill can be a 15-game winner, and would make the 2009 Nationals a lot more competitive. But there may be no such thing as a healthy Hill — ever.
Unlike last year, when the Nationals were banking on the fragile arms of Hill and John Patterson to be their one and two starters, this year they were making their plans without Hill — a rotation of John Lannan, Scott Olson, Daniel Cabrera, Collin Balester and now it appears rookie Jordan Zimmermann. Hill would have been found money.
Speaking of money, at least Hill will get paid this season — he won nearly $800,000 in salary arbitration.
I will be on The Sports Reporters on ESPN 980 AM on Monday, March 9, from 5 to 7 p.m.
To learn more about Thom Loverro, go to www.thomloverro.com