SAN DIEGO -- Nationals left-hander Doug Slaten, who is on the disabled list, has been instructed to rest his elbow for at least two weeks because he has an ulnar-nerve problem inside the elbow. Doctors didn't find any ligament damage.

Slaten's problems with his elbow have prevented him from throwing his breaking pitches. There isn't any time timetable for when Slaten will return to action.

Left-hander Tom Gorzelanny, on the disabled list because of a sore left elbow, will begin a rehab assignment on Monday. It is not known where he will pitch. Gorzelanny has had several bullpen sessions, and didn't have any problems throwing the baseball.

The Gorzelanny announcement means that right-hander Yunesky Maya will get another start, most likely against the Cardinals on Tuesday. In his last start, Maya had the best outing of his Major League career, allowing only a run in six innings against the Giants.

Espinosa plays despite bruised right hand

SAN DIEGO -- Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa suffered a bruised right hand during Wednesday's 3-1 loss to the Giants. However, he was in the lineup against the Padres on Thursday.

Espinosa was hurt in the ninth inning. On a 2-2 pitch with two outs, Espinosa was hit on the right hand by a Matt Cain pitch. However, home-plate umpire Sam Holbrook and third-base umpire Greg Gibson ruled that Espinosa swung at the pitch to end the game.

The replay showed that Espinosa, who was in serious pain, did not swing at the pitch. Manager Jim Riggleman argued with Holbrook, but the play stood. Espinosa didn't talk to the media after the game. On Thursday, however, he said that he looked at the replay and felt he didn't swing at the pitch.

"It's an umpire's decision," Espinosa said. "You can't really do anything about that. But when I looked at the film, I didn't think I swung at all. My bat was way behind me. My hand just got hit. It was an unfortunate call, I thought."

Hairston feeling better

SAN DIEGO -- Third baseman Jerry Hairston Jr. didn't start on Thursday against the Padres because of lower back spasms, but was able to take batting practice and expects to play on Friday.

Hairston said he feels much better than he did the previous two days. In the fifth inning on Tuesday against the Giants, Hairston was in the batter's box and in pain while swinging the bat. After walking to load the bases, Hairston left the game and was seen walking gingerly into the clubhouse.

Hairston said the back problems occurred when he woke up on Tuesday morning. He went to AT&T Park early to get treatment, but his back stiffened up by the middle of the game.