- The Washington Times - Friday, June 1, 2007

In an ideal world, the Washington Nationals would promote Joel Hanrahan from Class AAA Columbus to start tomorrow night’s game against the San Diego Padres.

Hanrahan, though, only lasted three innings in his previous start (his first since coming back from a hamstring injury) and isn’t really ready to make to move up to Washington.

So manager Manny Acta decided to leave rookie Levale Speigner in the rotation for now and give the struggling right-hander another chance to turn things around.

“We don’t think that Hanrahan, it’s fair to him to bring him up here after just three innings of rehab,” Acta said yesterday in announcing Speigner as his starter.

The 25-year-old Hanrahan, who is 1-1 with a 1.48 ERA at Columbus, remains a likely candidate to join the rotation at some point once he builds his arm strength back up. Until then, Speigner will remain, hoping to improve upon his performance from three previous starts (he surrendered 17 runs in 101/3 total innings).

Even though his spot in the rotation was in limbo all week, Speigner, 26, prepared as if he would still get the call. He threw a regular bullpen session Wednesday and was informed yesterday he would be facing the Padres.

“I just went under that assumption and went ahead and prepared for that,” he said.

Hill in the clear

Shawn Hill received good news from the Cleveland doctor he visited yesterday to receive a second opinion on his injured right elbow. Orthopedist Mark Schickendantz said Hill’s elbow showed no structural problems.

The only remaining concern with Hill is his left shoulder, which briefly popped out of its joint in mid-April when he dove awkwardly into third base in Florida. That injury has tweaked his mechanics slightly and, Hill believes, caused the right elbow problems.

He won’t be allowed to pick up a ball again until the shoulder is pronounced 100 percent healthy, but club officials don’t expect that to take too long.

Patterson on track

Fellow injured starter John Patterson threw off a mound for the second time since going on the disabled list with nerve irritation in his right arm and said he was encouraged by the results.

Patterson threw about 40 pitches out of both the windup and stretch, including eight to 10 curveballs, and said his arm felt fine afterward. He noted that he’s experienced no soreness the days after he has thrown.

“I felt really good,” he said. “My delivery’s coming together really quick. I think it’s coming along. … I’m pleased with how it’s going.”

Patterson likely will need one or two more bullpen sessions before he pitches in a simulated game and then goes on a minor league rehab assignment.

Peacock signs

Pitcher Bradley Peacock, last summer’s 41st-round draft pick, signed with the club just before yesterday’s midnight deadline. The 19-year-old right-hander will report to the Nationals’ Gulf Coast League rookie team in Viera, Fla.

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