- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2006

TORONTO — As if the Washington Nationals’ trip north of the border hadn’t been depressing enough, the club yesterday was dealing with the news that two-fifths of the starting rotation has nagging injuries.

Livan Hernandez is battling a sore right knee after injuring himself shagging flies on Tuesday, while Shawn Hill is still experiencing stiffness in his surgically repaired right elbow.

For now, neither injury appears serious enough to prevent either pitcher from making his next start. But team officials are concerned.

Hernandez, who pitched with a bad knee last year before undergoing offseason surgery, said he re-injured himself during batting practice before Tuesday’s game. This injury is not related to his old one, but he acknowledged that “I feel it a lot.”

Hernandez was moving gingerly around the Nationals’ clubhouse at Rogers Centre yesterday and had his knee wrapped in ice. Still, he said he will not miss tomorrow’s scheduled start against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

“No, I’m going to pitch like that,” he said. “If something bad’s going to happen, it’s going to happen.”

Hill, meanwhile, said he felt elbow stiffness throughout his five-inning start on Wednesday. The rookie right-hander experienced similar pain earlier this season while pitching at Class AA Harrisburg, but he believes it’s simply scar tissue from his 2004 ligament replacement surgery and isn’t concerned.

Manager Frank Robinson does have some concerns and planned to meet with Hill yesterday to better understand the situation. Hill is tentatively scheduled to pitch Monday against the Florida Marlins, a start he intends to make.

“As of right now, I’m fine,” he said. “We’ll see how it is today and tomorrow. It’s going to be their decision, obviously. But as far as I’m concerned, I’d like to go.”

Guillen out of lineup

Robinson didn’t give his starting lineup a massive overhaul last night, as he threatened to do Wednesday, but slumping right fielder Jose Guillen did sit until coming into the game defensively in the eighth inning. He struck out in the ninth.

Guillen went 2-for-26 on the Nationals’ road trip, lowering his season average to .206. Robinson suggested earlier in the week he might consider sitting Guillen for two or three games in a row to help him clear his mind and work out his problems, but he said he probably won’t do that in this case.

“I wouldn’t do that without talking to him first,” Robinson said.

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