Notes: Nationals shut down ailing Hill
Forearm pain forces veteran right-hander to stop throwing
JUPITER, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill played catch on Friday, but he had to stop after a few minutes because his right forearm was in serious pain. Hill has yet to play in an exhibition game because of the forearm injury.
General manager Jim Bowden said he doesn't consider this latest news a setback, because the radial nerve in Hill's forearm is normal and does not require surgery. Still, Hill will be shut down for the time being.
Bowden acknowledged by phone that the team will be getting opinions about what's wrong with Hill's arm and how he can pitch through the pain.
"We told Shawn that if he was in pain to just stop, and he stopped," Bowden said by phone.
Hill was not available to the media on Friday.
Hill has been experiencing tightness in the forearm for more than a month, but managed to throw in bullpen and batting practice sessions. In his last batting practice session last week, Hill was in a lot of pain.
Hill received a second opinion on his sore right forearm Tuesday at Duke Medical Center, and the results were positive.
During his eight years in professional baseball, Hill hasn't been able to escape injury. When he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Hill already had a sore right elbow.
By the 2004 season, he needed elbow reconstruction and it took him almost two years to recover. Hill returned to the big leagues in 2006, but he didn't pitch after June 28 because of elbow soreness. Scar tissue was causing problems in the elbow.
Last April, after getting off to a good start, Hill hurt his left shoulder running the bases against the Marlins. He pitched through the injury, but he changed his mechanics and it ended up hurting his forearm. As a result, Hill missed the last three months of the season.
On the mound: Right-hander John Patterson pitched 2 2/3 innings and gave up one run on four hits in accelerated camp on Friday. Patterson was expected to pitch against the Mets on Thursday night, but the game was canceled because of rain.
Great news: First baseman Nick Johnson had his best game of the spring on Friday. He went 3-for-3, with two of the hits coming off Marlins left-hander Andrew Miller. Johnson is 5-for-15 (.333) during the exhibition season.
"I'm getting more at-bats. I'm seeing [more] offspeed [pitches]. I'm making the adjustments," Johnson said.
Johnson, who missed the 2007 season while recovering from a broken leg, also showed no fear when it came to running the bases. In the second inning, he was tagged out at home plate while trying to score on a Wil Nieves single. Johnson slid into the catcher without any damage.
"That was nice to see, because Nick has no fear. He showed that already," manager Manny Acta said. "It was not only his sliding; he was sliding under the catcher."
Another great game: Infielder Pete Orr realizes he is a long shot to make the club, but he is giving the Nationals a glimpse of what he could do later in the season. On Friday, he went 2-for-3 and is now 5-for-15 (.333) this spring.
"I feel good now," Orr said. "It's nice just to play the games and I don't have to kill myself about my swing."
Orr, who signed as a Minor League free agent in the offseason, played the last three years in the Braves' organization. His best season occurred in 2005, when he hit .300 in 112 games in Atlanta.
Coming up: The Nationals travel to Kissimmee, Fla., on Saturday to play the Astros at 1:05 p.m. ET. Washington right-hander Tim Redding will face Houston right-hander Felipe Paulino.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.