- The Washington Times - Friday, September 5, 2008

ATLANTA | Washington Nationalsright-hander Shawn Hill will have minor surgery Friday on his right elbow, but the procedure could prove far more significant depending on what orthopedist James Andrews finds on closer inspection.

Hill will have arthroscopic surgery in Pensacola, Fla., to remove calcium deposits that have built up near his ulnar collateral ligament. If Andrews can remove the “ossification” while leaving the ligament intact, Hill can go into the offseason on track to pitch next spring.

But club officials are concerned the calcium may be attached enough to the ligament that the arthroscopy won’t be enough. They worry the ligament might have to be replaced altogether via Tommy John surgery.

Hill, 27, had Tommy John surgery once before in late 2004 and knows the recovery period for the operation is 12 to 18 months. The Nationals might not be willing to wait that long to see whether he recovers to the point that he can pitch successfully again in the major leagues.

Hill has battled arm injuries throughout his career. Although he has had success in flashes - he posted a 3.42 ERA in 16 starts for Washington last season - he has endured a variety of ailments to his elbow, shoulder and forearm. The Nationals shut him down in late June after he posted a 1-5 record and a 5.83 ERA.

If there is a silver lining to Hill’s latest ailment, a specialist determined Wednesday that there is no structural damage to his forearm, leaving the elbow as the only concern at the moment.

Young almost ready

Dmitri Young plans to rejoin the Nationals on Sunday and return to the active roster Tuesday for the start of a two-game series in New York against the Mets.

Young, on the disabled list since the All-Star break while trying to get his diabetes under control, went 2-for-3 with a double Wednesday night for Class A Vermont and hit .429 through his first three games there.

The veteran first baseman will finish out the Lake Monsters’ season this weekend and then rejoin the Nationals with his eventual role still uncertain.

Manager Manny Acta said Young may come off the bench as a pinch-hitter only at first.

“We’ll play him as we see fit,” Acta said. “We’re just happy that he has his diabetes under control, and we’ll be happy to see him and [have him] be around the guys. I don’t think Dmitri needs to prove anything here in the week or two weeks that he’s going to be with our club. The playing time is the least of our worries.”

Balester set for Tuesday

Collin Balester, who was bumped from his scheduled start Friday because of a strained glut muscle, threw off a bullpen mound Thursday with no difficulty and is on course to start Tuesday against the Mets.

Balester said he injured himself warming up before his last outing Sunday at Nationals Park.

“It was kind of a freak thing,” he said. “I can’t pinpoint exactly when it was.”

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