- The Washington Times - Friday, March 6, 2009

Hill scratched, to visit Andrews

LAKELAND, Fla. — Every time Shawn Hill makes a step toward a clean bill of health, there’s a sense that he’ll progress further than his rickety right arm will let him. Thursday’s news isn’t necessarily a sign of that, but it does illustrate why the Washington Nationals have gone into this season without needing to rely on a healthy Hill.

The oft-injured starter was scratched from his Thursday appearance after reporting discomfort Tuesday that stemmed from a bullpen session a day earlier. He has a Friday appointment in Pensacola, Fla., to see surgeon James Andrews, who operated on Hill’s elbow in September.

Manager Manny Acta said Hill was willing to pitch Thursday, but the Nationals opted to have him see Andrews before the problem got worse.

“I feel bad for the kid because he’s been going through it for a while,” Acta said. “Hopefully he comes back with good news from Dr. Andrews. But, you know, we kind of prepared ourselves for something like this. We didn’t do everything revolving around Shawn.”

The Nationals have a pair of young pitchers — Jordan Zimmermann and Collin Balester — who are competing for a rotation spot. If Hill isn’t healthy, they might not need to compete.

“We don’t feel good about it,” acting general manager Mike Rizzo said. “He’s a terrific pitcher when he’s pitching. It’s frustrating that he can’t get on the mound more often.”

TIGERS 10, NATIONALS 2

Hill’s absence didn’t leave the Nationals with much to feel good about in a dreary game. Anderson Hernandez drove in two runs in the second inning with a double, but after that the Nationals couldn’t do anything on offense. They had four hits all afternoon — as many batters as Gustavo Chacin walked in the third inning.

Chacin also gave up a home run to Jeff Larish in the second, one of four the Tigers hit.

Ryan Wagner, one of the candidates to make the Nationals as a late-inning reliever, had a particularly rough afternoon. He gave up four runs on three hits in the eighth inning, including a three-run homer by Matt Treanor.

— Ben Goessling

TEMPERATURE CHECK

Gustavo Chacin [DOWN]

Long shot to make the team didn’t help himself with four walks

Nats’ bullpen [DOWN]

Struggling group gave up three home runs

Justin Jones [UP]

After missing all of 2008, left-hander showed impressive curveball and struck out three

BY THE NUMBERS

8 Strikes Gustavo Chacin threw in 26 third-inning pitches Thursday.

FRIDAY’S WEATHER

Washington: Cloudy, 62 degrees

Viera: Sunny, 76 degrees

THREE-DAY SCHEDULE

Friday: vs. Orioles in Fort Lauderdale, 1 p.m.

Saturday: vs. Mets in Port St. Lucie, 1 p.m.

Sunday: vs. Mets in Viera, 1 p.m.

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