- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Washington Nationals starter John Lannan had no chance to process a question about what he learned from his major league debut last week before catcher Brian Schneider answered it for him.

“Not to hit two people in a row,” Schneider said with a smirk.

Indeed, Lannan’s first start Thursday at Philadelphia won’t be remembered for how long he pitched (41/3 innings) or how effective he was. Rather, the defining moments will be the fastballs that got away and hit sluggers Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, leading to Lannan’s ejection.

The pitch into Utley broke the star second baseman’s right hand, costing him and the Phillies dearly. It’s also remained with Lannan, who will get a chance to move past his debut tonight when he faces Cincinnati in his first start at RFK Stadium.

“I’m just excited because I just keep thinking about my last start, and that’s what everyone’s been talking about because of what happened,” Lannan said. “I’m looking forward to having people talk about something else like how well I did.”

The 6-foot-5 left-hander produced plenty of solid outings during his meteoric rise through the minors this season. He thrived at Class A Potomac, Class AA Harrisburg and Class AAA Columbus, going a combined 12-3 with a 2.35 ERA to earn a call-up and a spot in the Nationals’ ever-shifting rotation.

Lannan’s second start figures to be a little less eventful than the first.

“It’s usually the important one to get the nerves out of the way,” manager Manny Acta said. “In those four days, just being around these guys and listening to them talk and talking to [pitching coach] Randy [St. Claire] and his side work and watching videos. He’s been doing that kind of stuff, which is big at this level. I think he’ll be better in the next outing.”

Lannan acknowledged he probably was trying to do too much when he worked inside to both Utley and Howard, and that seems to be one of the most prominent lessons from last week. And he hasn’t demonstrably tweaked anything heading into tonight’s start.

“Just stuff I’ve been working on all year, just trying to get back to what I was doing to be successful in the minor leagues,” Lannan said. “Everybody has said don’t change a thing, just keep on doing what I’ve been doing. So that’s what I’m going to try to do.”

Hill feeling good

Right-hander Shawn Hill said he felt fine after making his first rehabilitation start Monday at Potomac.

Hill tossed three scoreless innings as he worked to return from an injury that has shelved him since a May 11 start. He consistently hit between 90 and 91 mph and will start again Saturday at Potomac. Acta anticipates Hill making at least two more rehab starts to get his stamina back to at least the five-inning range.

“The offspeed stuff still needs a little work just in terms of getting a feel of it, but I was throwing strikes, and the velocity was fine,” said Hill, who said his left shoulder is healed and he is now just monitoring his right elbow. “I feel reasonably well today, so all in all it was pretty good.”

Bowie rehabs

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