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Uh Oh. Shawn Hill. James Andrews.

It's the forearm. Again. Forearm discomfort will prevent Shawn Hill from making his scheduled start this afternoon. It will send him to orthopedist Dr. James Andrews for an appointment -- another one -- tomorrow. It threatens to derail his career, and though the Washington Nationals remain cautiously hopeful that their talented right-hander can pitch again this spring, they are also aware of the big picture:

So far, injuries have prevented Hill from fulfilling his promise. And they may never let him.

The latest setback, reversing the goodwill of a healthy first few weeks, occurred two days ago after a bullpen session. Hill felt forearm tightness, a recurrence of the same problem that forced him to miss much of last season. He spoke up. He said he could pitch today, grit it out. The Nationals felt otherwise, and scratched Hill, deciding Gustavo Chacin will start in his place.

"Obviously I feel bad for the kid, because he's been going through it for a while now," Manager Manny 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, and we were thinking that if he was healthy it would be a big bonus for us. The good thing about it, it's early in camp. You know, we still have four weeks to go that if it's nothing serious he'll be ready to go for us."

In his only previous start this spring, Hill threw just one scoreless inning -- 12 pitches. A baby step. But it planted the seed for optimism, and Acta began talking about the importance of having a healthy Hill in the rotation. If Hill cannot overcome this latest injury, the Nationals, indeed, have options. The team's 22-year-old righties, Collin Balester and Jordan Zimmermann, might both be able to land spots in the rotation. Shairon Martis and even Chacin could enter the mix.

Tomorrow, Hill will travel to Pensacola, Fla., to meet with Andrews, who performed arthroscopic surgery on Hill's elbow in September 2008. During his big league career, which dates back to 2004, Hill has never pitched more than 100 innings or started more than 16 games.

---

Today's lineup

Harris -- 7
Milledge -- 8
Johnson -- 3
Dukes -- 9
Willingham -- DH
Valentin -- 2
Guzman -- 5
Hernandez -- 4
Gonzalez -- 6

P: Chacin

By Chico Harlan  |  March 5, 2009; 11:43 AM ET
 
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Next: Gustavo Pitches At The Joker's House

Comments

::sigh::

Posted by: Brian_ | March 5, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Heavy sigh (and some off-the-record Fickisms).

I feel bad for Hill, too, in that he has/had so much potential.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 11:50 AM | Report abuse

This is why having someone like Perez is so important.

Pitching rotations aren't so much rotations as depth charts. We're about 2 tweaked elbows from having Tyler Clippard making 30 starts.

Posted by: Uncle_Teddy | March 5, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Maybe this is nothing and they are just babying him. Not the end of the world even if he is pattersoned.

This does make me wonder about something though, with all the youth and instability of our rotation and the remarkable flexibility of the roster right now (Dunn & Willingham can play 1B or OF, Hernandez can play 2B, SS & 3B) I wonder if Kasten/Rizzo/Acta (we need a code for the brain trust) might consider only carrying 12 position players to make room for an 8th reliever?

Posted by: estuartj | March 5, 2009 11:55 AM | Report abuse

FICK!

Posted by: longterm | March 5, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Welcome to the roatation Jordan Zimmerman and Colin Balester! My question to Stan is if one other starter gets hurt are we going to have to hear all year how this team was desimated by unforseen injuries and that's why the lose so much? I've heard that before..

Posted by: PNatsFan | March 5, 2009 11:59 AM | Report abuse

Crap!

Posted by: Section505203 | March 5, 2009 12:03 PM | Report abuse

*&#$% [expletive deleted]

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 11:44 AM

~~~~~~~

... sometimes there's just nothing to add.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 5, 2009 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Well at least they have some options, alot better then say 2007 and 2008. Also please stop the man-love for OD-Perez, there is no upside to someone who values his worth more then picking up the phone.

To early to say Hill will go the way of JPAT but when and if they does happen we should all have been so lucky to toss a few fastballs in the bigs!

Posted by: TippyCanoe | March 5, 2009 12:15 PM | Report abuse

"This is why having someone like Perez is so important."

... does anyone here think that with JimBo gone, OP might be:

1/ enticed to come into the fold?

2/ directed to honour his promisory note?

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 5, 2009 12:18 PM | Report abuse

"I see Willingham as the top choice to be traded, since - with Dunn - we don't really need him as backup at first and, as mentioned, he's a liability at catcher. He would actually bring something back, too.

At Kearns' salary, no one is going to take him. At his recent performance, no one is going to offer much for him."

- 506 from last post
--------------------

I don't see Willingham being traded except for something of high value. Both Nick and AK's contracts expire after this year, as does WMP, so the apparent 1B /OF glut goes away, barring a huge year by Marrero or Maxwell. They will try to keep Willingham patient as they unpack the OF situation.

Lots of folks here have said AK is untradeable due to his contract. There are plenty of bad contracts out there that can be swapped. Suppose a contender has a need for a RH 4th OF to split time with a frequently injured LH right fielder, has a blocked middle infielder who they'd like to start at SS, another SS who is due a lot of money over the next two years, and that high paid SS has played some 2d? Would that contender maybe want to swap, or even be willing to take Nick as well for further depth if they'd throw in a High A level prospect CF? Just idle speculation, but more to show that Kearns canbe moved in the right deal.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 5, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

"does anyone here think that with JimBo gone, OP might be:

1/ enticed to come into the fold?

2/ directed to honour his promisory note?"

No, because one of JimBo's last acts as GM was to release Perez from that contract, such as it was. They cut any ties to him, and they ain't goin' back.

Posted by: nunof1 | March 5, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Dang it.

I still remember that gem of a game he pitched a couple years ago in Colorado, only to see Cordero implode, the Rockies not only win, but get to the World Series on that win alone. Had Cordero kept it together, Hill's gem woulda kept Colorado from the post-season.

Dunno why I'm still obsessing about that game...

Posted by: Juan-John | March 5, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I feel like Charlie Brown trying to kick a football with Shawn Hill's forearm in the Lucy role. I get hopeful that this time everything will work and then I end up on my back.

Posted by: hoo93 | March 5, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

we finally have a team that can compete offensively in interleague games. no trades!

Posted by: longterm | March 5, 2009 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Didn't the Rockies end the season in a tie and force a one-game playoff (in which former Nat Jamey Carroll played a pivotal role, thank you very much)?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Shawn Hill - all aboard the Patterson express!

(sorry, we hardly knew you)

Posted by: 1of9000 | March 5, 2009 12:39 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad he's going to Andrews right away this time instead of throwing with pain.

Posted by: NatsNut | March 5, 2009 12:42 PM | Report abuse

Exactly. They lose that one game against the Nats, and they're not tied at the end. (Granted, a lotta other games happened after that one, but still...)

-------------------

Didn't the Rockies end the season in a tie and force a one-game playoff (in which former Nat Jamey Carroll played a pivotal role, thank you very much)?

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 12:32 PM

Posted by: Juan-John | March 5, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Ah, thanks, Juan-John.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

Part of why I still remember that Rockies game is that it's one of the first that I actually kept score while watching from home. So every time I open that scorebook, there it is.

Posted by: Juan-John | March 5, 2009 12:47 PM | Report abuse

For the record, the Nationals have done alright in interleague play -- lets build for the rest of the games.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | March 5, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

I feel bad for Shawn. I hope he makes the decision that is best for his long term health at this point. He needs to consider that there's life after baseball.

As far as the Nats are concerned, they had to have been prepared for this. This is the 2nd of 3 recurring injury issues to resurface very early in ST - DY being the other leaving NJ the last man standing. You have to believe this opens the door for both Zimmermann and Balester in the rotation - assuming nothing else goes wrong between now and opening day. If another one falls or falters at least there are plenty of options left on the FA market.

Posted by: RicketyCricket | March 5, 2009 12:50 PM | Report abuse

"I don't see Willingham being traded except for something of high value. Both Nick and AK's contracts expire after this year, as does WMP, so the apparent 1B /OF glut goes away, barring a huge year by Marrero or Maxwell. They will try to keep Willingham patient as they unpack the OF situation."

Isn't Willingham done next year too? Or is it in two years? My point is, you have to trade talent for talent and Willingham is the only trade-worthy outfielder we have with talent.

Posted by: Section506 | March 5, 2009 12:51 PM | Report abuse

May I join you all in a hearty round of cursing? This news saddens me.

And I should point out that Uncle_Teddy said that "someone like Perez" is so important. That's not exactly man love, and I tend to agree with him.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 5, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Sharon Martis will be one to watch closely (if you weren't already). IF Don't-Call-Me-Ryan keeps it up, he could be the 4th starter with Balester and Martis battling for the 5th spot. While it's still early on Hill, I'd say even if he's okay, this setback will make it hard for him to be ready for the first week in April.

Too bad Detwiller sucks. The door is wide open for these young guys to get a shot. I'm not too concerned with Bally giving up a couple HR's (which could have been wind-aided - it is Florida after all), because he bounced back well. With his experience, it's gonna be hard for Martis to pass him. That said, I think Martis has the better stuff and I'm excited to see two of these three up here in DC.

But I think a rotation spot is now DCMR's to lose.

Posted by: sec307 | March 5, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I understand and agree for the lack of love for Perez, but I see no reason to bring some veteran pitchers in to spring training who can eat some innings while we don't rush the kids. There are 15 Perez's out there, I hope Rizzo is on the phone.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | March 5, 2009 1:03 PM | Report abuse

This should also create an opportunity for guys like (alphabetically) Bergmann, Chico, and Clippard.

Posted by: JohninMpls | March 5, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

In other news,live box score link:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/boxscore.jsp?gid=2009_03_05_wasmlb_detmlb_1

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

Forget Perez. Forget signing a 32 year old washed up pitcher in FA to take Hill's place.

Go with Ballester and Zimmermann and let them grow into their roles on this ballclub.

The Nationals are rebuilding from 59-102. There is no good reason not to develop the younger players that have upside NOW.

We have seen far too much of 30 somethings like Perez, Dmitri Young, LoDuca, etc. that are yesterday's news.

These guys aren't part of the future, heck, they are barely part of the present in MLB.

Posted by: leopard09 | March 5, 2009 1:15 PM | Report abuse

... with all the positive stuff settling in around the team this ST, I really don't want to mess with it - even if it is only the Spring Fever talking. What I mean is that I don't want our intense but maybe over-the-top giddiness at the prospect of a good year to cloud our judgment.

... while Shawn was a going concern, we were ready and satisfied to accept one of either JZimm or Collin as the fifth starter. Now that Shawn looks to be a question mark, I just don't want to answer that question by elevating both kids - not if a week ago, they didn't enjoy such status.

... that's why I was willing to reintroduce OP into the mix. Can't remember who, but someone reminded me that his "contract" had since been torn up, but to my way of thinking, I'd rather sign on a veteran fifth arm than put both kids in the rotation from the start. Not saying they couldn't do it, but I just don't want to tempt fate, at the very time things are beginning to look up.

Posted by: natscanreduxit | March 5, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Sad news for Hill. I will keep my fingers crossed that this is not too serious.

I still say we should go and sign Pedro to an incentive-laden 1 year deal. Let's kick the tires on him and see if he can be driven around for 6 months (or even 3 months if he's doing well and swap him at the trade deadline for a PTBNL or two).

Posted by: erocks33 | March 5, 2009 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Say, Chico, would you mind giving the official scorekeeper a jostle to make sure that he's awake? Thanks.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

That's what I'm talking about. Nats up 2-0.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

Better to find out now as opposed to later after the season is underway.

Posted by: periculum | March 5, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

It looks like Anderson Hernandez just drove in two in the top of the 2nd (and then stole a base). It says Christain Guzman is playing 3rd, but I wonder if that's really Joel.

The live box score is quite the adventure this spring.

Posted by: sec307 | March 5, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I just checked the MLB audio and video site and they aren't doing audio for the Nationals vs Tigres game. Is it on wfed at all?

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | March 5, 2009 1:39 PM | Report abuse

I don't see Willingham being traded except for something of high value. Both Nick and AK's contracts expire after this year, as does WMP, so the apparent 1B /OF glut goes away, barring a huge year by Marrero or Maxwell. They will try to keep Willingham patient as they unpack the OF situation.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 5, 2009 12:19 PM
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I am in total agreement with you, and don't forget this most likely will be Dmitri's last year in DC. Also, for the Nats to trade Kearns they would have to eat most of his huge contract for this year.

Wily Mo may be easier but still probably overpriced at $2 million.

Dmitri, he will be the highest paid star in all of the Minor Leagues.

Maybe that's why the Nats don't like long-term contracts as they have been burned so many times.

The silver lining, they are someone else's problem next year.

Nick Johnson is a wait & see as you would love to see the Nats re-paid for the Powerball payout they gave him. I still agree with others on Nick that if you force him to rest he could be viable as he just can't go 7 days a week, and that is where Willingham can switch off with him and hopefully keep him healthy.

Posted by: dmacman88 | March 5, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

What I didn't understand about the Perez contract issue was, if I remember correctly, that he said it wasn't about the money (I doubt that) but it was about the contract being not being guaranteed.

If that was the case, guarantee the contract, let one of the kids develope for half a season and then OP becomes a tradeable asset. Why let him walk?

Posted by: derwink | March 5, 2009 1:57 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that he's felt pain all winter, but kept quiet b/c he wanted another year of salary. $625K

Posted by: dclifer | March 5, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I just checked the MLB audio and video site and they aren't doing audio for the Nationals vs Tigres game. Is it on wfed at all?

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | March 5, 2009 1:39 PM
________
Cause I'm nice I'll repost from earlier in the week:
________
Your media guide for the next week...
Today-Thursday: I got nothing for you.
Friday: TV: MASN / Radio: WJZ
Saturday: TV: MLB.TV (That would be the Mets feed)
Sunday: Radio: WFAN
Monday: Radio: WFED & KBME
Tuesday: Radio: WFED
Wednesday: Off day

So there's that.

Posted by: OldDude | March 3, 2009 10:39 AM
________
And, because I'm even nicer (and _I_ want to know so I'll be looking it up anyway), I'll put something like this up on one of the Monday morning posts here each week of the spring.

Posted by: OldDude | March 5, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

Gracias, OldDude!

Posted by: Section506 | March 5, 2009 2:06 PM | Report abuse

It would have been nice if Chacin could have risen to the occasion and had a good outing, but instead he didn't last 3 innings, giving up 3 runs in 2 1/3.

Crud.

+1/2St.

Posted by: kevincostello | March 5, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

OP needs to walk because he's an ass. This is a young team that will not contend for anything. Why waste our time with a retread that's gonna have an ERA that pushes 5.00? Let's find out what we have in the young guys by putting their feet to the fire. Hopefully Balester will be better this year because of the experience he got last year. So I say we let Don't-Call-Me-Ryan and/or Martis find out what the Big Leagues are about.

While injuries are certainly possible, none of the rotation possiblities have any kind of injury history (unlike past seasons). Our top three guys all made 30 starts last year, so hopefully we can promote/demote based on performance instead of need this year.

But I'd rather find out what's in the system than showcase a vet for the trading deadline.

Posted by: sec307 | March 5, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

506 - Willingham, IIRC, was in his first year of arb eligibility, so he is team controlled for 2010 and 2011. By 2012, Marrero, Hood, new draftees, etc. . . should be able to challenge for major league playing time, or they can use the team-controlled years to negotiated a longer term deal. Actually, by 2011, Marrero may be taking over for Dunn at 1st if he is not resigned.

By the way, when we talk about the fall from grace of the Nats system in the eyes of BA, it really starts and ends with Marrero and Detwiler slipping out of the top 100. Marrero I think was in the top 50, and Jim Callis had him pegged at the start of last year as a candidate for the 2009 top 10.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | March 5, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Thanks Old Dude! I'll be at the game tomorrow in Ft Lauderdale, I'll try to do some live NJ reporting from the box stands.

Posted by: NatsandSkinsareclassclassclass | March 5, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

>No, because one of JimBo's last acts as GM was to release Perez from that contract, such as it was. They cut any ties to him, and they ain't goin' back.

Yeah, the guy didn't say a single word to Lannan last year?? I wouldn't let him anywhere near that clubhouse. No surprise that Jimbo re-signed him, since they're both tools. Poor Jimbo - getting bashed again.

Posted by: Brue | March 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

>Sharon Martis will be one to watch closely (if you weren't already). IF Don't-Call-Me-Ryan keeps it up, he could be the 4th starter with Balester and Martis battling for the 5th spot

Rizzo's probably on the phone right now. There's no way they could let that happen. It would be a disaster.

Posted by: Brue | March 5, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Even though I've been a baseball fan for more than 40 years, I'm not one of those old farts who yearn for the days when pitchers were men and starters completed games. I know the game has evolved since the Griffith Stadium days, but as Don Sutton used to say pitchers aren't goking to feel 100 percent for 35 starts a year. The Nats pitchers have been in camp at least for three weeks, and hopefully Hill is just going through a "dead arm" period from throwing. I forget who first said it, but the six most ominous words to a pitcher are "Dr. Andrews will see you now..."

Posted by: leetee1955 | March 5, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

You're swell, OldDude.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | March 5, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

>Hill is just going through a "dead arm" period from throwing.

Oh it's dead alright. Dead nerves. He's only been throwing a couple of weeks total. He didn't even throw in January. A dead arm usually doesn't come around for a month or more of spring training. Poor dude. Would have been a big boost.

Posted by: Brue | March 5, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

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