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Hill: Second opinion on Monday

GM Jim Bowden told me taht the club believes "Shawn will be fine," because the MRI exam on his right arm did not show any damage -- in fact, it didn't show anything.

Still, Hill will board a plane Sunday for Durham, N.C., and be checked out first thing on Monday morning at Duke University. Duke, if you recall, is where John Patterson had surgery last year to decompress the radial nerve in his right arm. So there's some history there for the club.

Bowden, though, said the trip is "only for precautionary reasons."

Still, the tenor of this whole thing is concerning.

"I feel bad for the kid," Manny Acta said. "I mean, that's the reason why we signed [the Odalis] Perez of the worlds, to bring him over here. Because when people have the history that he has and Patterson has, we just couldn't come over here to this camp with those two guys pencilled in 1 and 2."

That makes sense, of course. Hill said he is "not overly concerned." He even said he hoped to throw his scheduled start on Wednesday. That, however, seems unlikely, at best.

"It's been kind of the same. It's gotten mildly worse, but it's not terrible," Hill said. "It's there. Right now, kind of treat it day-by-day. And they just want to get it to make sure that moving forward we're not pushing through something that should be stopped."

There is no mistaking the importance that the guys in the clubhouse, however, put into the health of Hill and Patterson.

"I think it's extremely important," Patterson himself said. "We have a lot of young guys with talent in here, but they're probably not ready yet. They need some innings in the minor leagues. So for us to win, and consistently win, in the big leagues I think we both have to be healthy. That just boosts everybody's confidence in here also. They're looking at the two of us to not nec carry the team, but to be a front-line starter. That'st eh truth of the situation. They neeed to have the confidence that they know that we are on the field - not only for the pitching staff, but for the position players too, it's important."

Patterson threw two innings and allowed a solo homer, but pronounced himself happy with the outing, which was very heavy on curveballs. Nats lost, 4-1. Split-squad against Houston and Baltimore tomorrow (both road games). What could another day possibly bring.

By Barry Svrluga  |  March 1, 2008; 6:11 PM ET
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