PHILADELPHIA -- Right-hander Shawn Hill, on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow and left shoulder, threw a simulated game against Nationals hitters on Wednesday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Hill threw 35 pitches in two innings and didn't have any problems. The next step for Hill is to have a bullpen session on Friday at Shea Stadium and then pitch in a rehab game on Monday for Potomac. Hill is expected to get at least three rehab starts.

"The command wasn't as good as I wanted it to be, but toward the end, I toned it down and I felt good there," Hill said about his throwing on Wednesday.

Manager Manny Acta said he is looking forward to the day when Hill pitches in a big league game. When he was healthy earlier in the year, Hill was arguably the Nationals best pitcher. He is 3-3 with a 2.70 ERA in eight games before going on the DL.

"He will mean a lot. This is the guy that gave us hope every fifth day. He is very consistent He doesn't throw that many pitches. It will be a boost. We need him right now," Acta said.

Trade deadline talk: The Cubs are interested in outfielder Ryan Church, but general manager Jim Bowden is asking too much for him. It is believed that the Cubs view Church as an extra outfielder.

The Cubs were looking acquire Church's services during the Winter Meetings, but nothing ever came of it.

Church said recently he is not worried about all the trade rumors, but he would like to stay with the Nationals.

"It's not up to me. I have no control over it. If it's going to happen, it's going to happen. You have to look at it as another opportunity," Church said.

Entering Wednesday's action, Church is hitting .259 with seven home runs and 39 RBIs.

Closer Chad Cordero is hopeful that he will remain with the Nationals after learning that infielder Ronnie Belliard signed a two-year extension on Monday. Cordero would like to see the group stick around.

"We have a good corps here. Hopefully, all those players will stick around. We have a good team here. We haven't won as many games as we want to, but we are playing tough," Cordero said.

Stat of the day: The Nationals are 7-4 on Thursdays.

Did you know: Entering Wednesday's action, Felipe Lopez leads the Nationals in strikeouts with 77.

Coming up: The Nationals play the final game of a three-game series against the Phillies on Thursday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. ET. Washington left-hander John Lannan (12-3, 2.36 in the Minors) will face Phillies right-hander Adam Eaton (9-6, 5.84).