- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 22, 2007

MIAMI — Shawn Hill’s left shoulder should be just fine. His right forearm? Well, that could be another story.

The Washington Nationals right-hander said yesterday his non-throwing shoulder was feeling much better nearly 24 hours after he jammed it while diving into third base. The injury forced Hill to leave Friday night’s game against the Florida Marlins after only six innings. At first, it looked serious enough to keep the 25-year-old from making his next start.

But after a night of rest, Hill said he felt better and barring any problems during today’s regular bullpen session, he believes he’ll be ready for his next outing. He was examined by Marlins doctor Dan Kanell and diagnosed with a contusion.

“It was stiff when I woke up, but since I’ve started moving it around it’s much better,” Hill said. “It’s going to be sore for a couple of days, but I should be fine.”

The injury happened on a poor baserunning play by Hill, who tried to score on a wild pitch in the sixth inning at Dolphin Stadium. But when the ball bounced right back to Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo, the Washington pitcher was caught in a rundown and ultimately had to dive awkwardly into third base.

“It was stupid on my part, period,” he said.

Hill’s shoulder may be OK, but he also acknowledged he has been pitching with tightness in his right forearm that has been discovered to be related to a nerve. The injury causes discomfort and prevents Hill from getting full extension on his pitches, but he’s taking medication for it and insists he’ll be able to pitch through it.

He also insisted this nerve injury is in no way comparable to the one that plagued teammate John Patterson all last season.

“No, not at all, absolutely not,” said Hill, who has a 2.92 ERA in four starts.

Church throws a strike

Lost in the mayhem of Friday’s 6-5, 14-inning Nationals victory was a perfect throw from center fielder Ryan Church to nail Florida’s Aaron Boone at third base in the eighth inning.

Church fired a low, two-hopper that third baseman Ryan Zimmerman caught right in front of the base to make the tag and prevent the Marlins from perhaps taking the lead in a tight game.

“That was huge,” manager Manny Acta said.

Church has played surprisingly well in center field since taking over for injured starter Nook Logan. He said the key may have been his decision to start playing deeper so he doesn’t let balls land over his head.

“Last year, I caught myself playing too shallow, and you can’t do that in big parks,” he said. “I think now I just play deep, because I can always come in and dive to make a catch.”

Extra bases

The Marlins promoted right-hander Wes Obermueller from Class AAA Albuquerque to start today’s series finale against Jerome Williams. Obermueller has had success against the Nationals before. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning at RFK Stadium two years ago while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers. …

Reliever Ray King, who is on the 15-day disabled list with left shoulder tendinitis, threw in the bullpen yesterday and reported no problems.

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