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Bowden: Hill tentatively starting Saturday

So Jim Bowden just watched batting practice and spent considerable time hanging with Casey Close and Brodie Van Wagenen, the agents for Ryan Zimmerman. Pleasant chit-chat. No, I don't have a long-term contract to announce.

I do, however, have a Shawn Hill update. Here's Bowden:

"We haven't made a final decision," Bowden said. "I think tentatively we're considering starting him Saturday in Florida. There's been no final decision. We'll make sure the week goes well and make a decision at the end of the week. But tentatively, I think that's what we're looking at."

So we'll continue to monitor that over the course of the week.

Also: Elijah Dukes took batting practice again today and ran for the first time. Bowden said he wanted to get Dukes out of the cold weather here, so he is sending him to Florida early. He'll meet the team in Miami for the weekend series with the Marlins (though he still won't be ready to play.)

Also, part 2: I checked in with both Brian Schneider and Ryan Church before hand. Asked them each if it would be a big deal to play against the Nationals. They had different takes.

"Definitely, to play against the old team, a lot of good guys on that team," Schneider said. "At the same time, I'm not trying to overhype it like other people might. Yeah, it's going to be fun, but I'm not going to make a big deal about it. That's not me. I'm not that kind of guy to over-hype things."

"Just another day," Church said. "Any time you're traded you're always going to run into your old partners. But that's just another day. The whole thing is I got a chance to play against them in spring training. It's probably bigger for Schneider (who was hurt during the spring). I hopefully got all that excitement, all that stuff, out of me in spring training."

So I asked Church if it was a big deal in the spring. "Oh, definitely," he said. "I was pressing, trying too hard. Tonight, just go out there and play."

We'll see how it goes. Keep in mind during Jackie Robinson Day/Night that it will be extra-special for one National. There are only two major league players -- in history -- to hail from the little town of Cairo, Ga.: Nationals utility man Willie Harris -- and Jackie Robinson.

Here are your lineups. Check out where Ryan Church is hitting.

Guzman -- 6
Milledge -- 8
Zimmerman -- 5
Johnson -- 3
Kearns -- 9
Estrada -- 2
Pena -- 7
Belliard -- 4
Perez -- 1

Reyes -- 6
Church -- 9
Wright -- 5
Beltran -- 8
Delgado -- 3
Pagan -- 7
Schneider -- 2
Castillo -- 4
Pelfrey -- 1

One other thing: Paul Lo Duca's thumb is still a bit beat up, though Manny Acta said he could have played tonight. He is available as a pinch hitter. Johnny Estrada gets his first start behind the plate tonight.

By Barry Svrluga  |  April 15, 2008; 6:39 PM ET
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