Schedule put together for Hill's return
Kearns, Pena close to returning; Young still has ways to go
PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. -- The Nationals are relieved that Shawn Hill's right forearm soreness is not serious. Going forward, the plan is for Hill to play catch on Monday and Wednesday, have a bullpen session next Sunday and then pitch in a game soon thereafter.
On Saturday morning, Hill said the forearm is feeling better. It helped that he hasn't thrown a baseball in a few days. He acknowledged that he started feeling discomfort before he pitched one inning against the Astros on Feb 27. The pain grew worse the following day, but he didn't tell the Nationals until Tuesday.
Hill was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on Friday afternoon, and it was determined that Hill has no structural damage in the forearm. Hill has inflammation in the forearm and was given anti-inflammatory medication.
"I don't feel 110 percent to the point where I could throw eight innings, but I feel as good -- if not better -- than I did just before I threw before my last start," Hill said. "The arm has bounced back pretty well. After talking to Dr. Andrews, I'm fairly optimistic. He seems to think there are a couple of tightness issues. He said it's just Spring Training."
Hill admitted he is tired of answering questions about his forearm and right elbow. He has had persistent problems with both dating back to the 2004 season.
"It's always frustrating knowing that I can't do what I want to do without any problems," Hill said. "It's frustrating when I have to answer questions to [the media], my family and the players. I just want to go out and throw."
In other news, Austin Kearns hasn't played an exhibition game since Feb. 25 because of a blister in his left palm. The Nationals are hoping that Kearns can play in a game against the Mets on Sunday afternoon at Space Coast Stadium.
Outfielder Wily Mo Pena and first baseman Dmitri Young are also nursing injuries. Pena is hampered by a strained right shoulder, while Young has back issues. Pena is hoping to play in an exhibition game by the middle of next week. Young, on the other hand, is not even close to playing in a game.
All three players are coming off below-average seasons and on the bubble as far as making the 25-man roster, so it's important for them to start playing exhibition games.
"The more games that you miss, you have less opportunities to make an impression on our coaching staff," Nationals manager Manny Acta said. "That's not a secret. I thought the opportunity was there when Adam Dunn went to the World Baseball Classic and because of a longer Spring Training. The fact is, because of their injuries, they haven't been able to be out there. We'll see where this takes us whenever they are healthy and go on the field."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.