- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NEW YORK — Shawn Hill’s breakthrough season will come to a premature conclusion.

The budding ace of the Washington Nationals’ pitching staff will be scratched from his final scheduled start tomorrow against the New York Mets and will have surgery on his right forearm soon.

Hill, who has battled a variety of ailments this season, has complained of occasional forearm tightness since spring training. According to general manager Jim Bowden, the 26-year-old right-hander noticed particular discomfort following his last start Friday. An MRI and EMG study revealed he has a compressed radial nerve in his throwing arm that will require surgery.

The date and location of the procedure have not been determined, but it likely will take place in the next week or two. Hill also will have surgery to repair a tear in his left shoulder about two weeks after that.

“He should be ready by spring training for all injuries,” Bowden said in an e-mail.

Though the description of Hill’s injury sounds similar to the one that derailed teammate John Patterson’s season, Bowden said Hill’s ailment is less severe. Patterson had surgery two weeks ago to decompress the radial nerve in his arm; he hopes to begin throwing again in November.

Hill wound up going 4-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 16 starts this year. He tailed off over the last month, though, finishing 1-2 with a 6.26 ERA in his last six outings.

Jimenez turns it on

Given the way he began the season (one hit in his first 25 at-bats), how impressive is it that D’Angelo Jimenez now leads the Nationals with a .384 on-base percentage?

Manager Manny Acta has noticed. A longtime supporter of Jimenez, Acta last night gave the utility infielder his seventh start in 15 games.

“That’s what I’ve envisioned from the beginning of spring training because of his ability to get on base,” Acta said. “He’s got more walks than some guys here who have more than 300 at-bats, which is pretty amazing.”

Jimenez, who started at shortstop and led off against the Mets, has hit .412 over his last 16 games, raising his average to a season-high .242. This late surge may help ensure he has a job in 2008, whether with the Nationals or another club.

“It’s not how you start; it’s how you finish,” he said. “They don’t remember the first half of the year. You’re going to remember the last month and how your [season-ending batting average] is. That’s what I’m trying to do.”

Extra bases

Outfielder Justin Maxwell made his second straight start last night, getting the nod in center field. “I’ve got to see the kid,” Acta said. …

Outfielder Wily Mo Pena managed a pinch-hit single Sunday, but his bruised right hand still needs another day to heal, so the outfielder remained on the bench last night. …

Catcher Jesus Flores (bruised left elbow) remains day-to-day.

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