Hill feels 'no discomfort' after start
Nationals righty tosses scoreless frame in first outing since Feb. 27
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill tossed a scoreless inning against the Marlins at Roger Dean Stadium on Monday afternoon.
The frame lasted four minutes and 16 pitches, 12 of which went for strikes. Hill, who was able to throw all of his pitches, induced Emilio Bonifacio to fly out to center fielder Lastings Milledge and struck out Cameron Maybin and Chris Coghlan.
Since he was slated to throw 30 pitches in the game, Hill wanted to go another inning. But he knew what manager Manny Acta and pitching coach Randy St. Claire would say before he asked the question.
"They didn't even want me to throw down in the bullpen just to finish up," Hill said. "They were happy with what I did, I guess. We'll see what happens in five days."
Said Acta about Hill pitching another inning: "He wanted to go out there again. I told him, I expect that out of him. That's how he is, regardless if his health is in question or not, but we nixed that pretty quick."
There is a reason Acta and St. Claire are being cautious when it comes to Hill. The last time he pitched prior to Monday was against the Astros on Feb. 27. In between starts, Hill was nursing a tight right forearm.
Hill was evaluated by Dr. James Andrews in Pensacola, Fla., on March 6, and it was determined that Hill had no structural damage to his right elbow and forearm. Hill was given anti-inflammatory medication to fix the problem. The tightness in his forearm is now a thing of the past, according to Hill.
"I have to hope that it stays this way. [There was] no discomfort at all today," Hill said. "Will it be perfectly fine tomorrow? I don't know. But right now, I'm not too concern about it. This is the first time since early 2007 or '06 that I didn't have any significant discomfort. That's why it's kind of nice."
Hill had a hint he wouldn't have any problems on the mound on Monday. During workouts earlier in the day, he easily threw the ball at 180 feet on flat ground. Last year, Hill was lucky if he could throw 90 to 120 feet in a long-toss session.
"I'm not battling to throw that far and put everything into it. I'm just able to flick it that far," Hill said. "I'm relaxed the way I used to be. There is a difference. I don't know if it's just a couple of days of rest just to get over the hump after the surgery, the massage to break up the scar tissue. Whatever it is, there is something definitely different."
The Nationals continue to be cautious when it comes to relying on Hill for the season, because of the right-hander's injury history. In a perfect world, Hill would be Washington's fourth starter.
"We are not going to plan anything today," Acta said. "We'll see how he feels tomorrow and Randy will work him in again."
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.