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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Shawn Hill Pitches for P-Nats

Woodbridge, VA--Washington Nationals' starting pitcher Shawn Hill, a spring training candidate for the opening day start, finally had his opening day. It was just 40 minutes down the road in Prince William county for the Potomac Nationals instead of for the Nats in their new stadium in near southeast DC.

Hill's final line was relatively impressive: five innings pitched, four hits, four strikeouts, one walk and no runs allowed. But it was really two different appearances--the first three innings, where he completely dominated the high A-level minor leaguers and the last two innings, where he lost the plate a little bit, couldn't "finish" his pitches by his own account, and allowed all four hits, three on sharp singles.

Hill threw 69 pitches--45 for strikes--in the game and another half-dozen in the bullpen afterward. He was economical in every inning except the fourth, where he tossed 25 pitches including the walk, two of the hits and two of his strikeouts. The first three innings he was completely in control. He struck out the second and third place hitters in the Myrtle Beach Pelicans line-up, the first on a sharp curve and the second on a fastball at the knees. He touched 90-91 on the radar gun on most of his fastballs.

After his appearance, he spoke about his arm, his conditioning, wanting to get back with the "big club"--and the Washington Capitals run to the playoffs.

"Overall, I felt pretty good," he started, " I feel like I'm ready to go." He faced all right-handed hitters, so he threw mostly fastballs and curve balls--no change-ups. "Curveball was ok, When it got side-to-side it got away from me a little bit but overall it was where I needed to be right now." When asked about whether he had any pain today, he replied, "No pain today. Warming up I get a little bit of pulling at it, but once I geared up and decided 'I'm throwing full-speed' there's not really alot of pain." He added, "I don't think the arm is going to hold me back at this point, it's going to be more of a performance issue."

Hill shared that it's taking him a bit more effort to warm up. "I'm definitely doing alot more to get loose before the game, whether it's a little bike or a little bit of cardio...just to make sure my that body is ready to go."

After talking about how he felt and his conditioning, he spoke specifically about how he threw in the game. "The velocity was fine. The command the first couple innings I was very pleased with. Towards the end it got away from me a little mechanics, I started to get a little quick towards the plate, spinning off a little bit." He finished his work in the bullpen after pitching five innings but not reaching the pitch limit of 80 set by the team. "I concentrated on staying back and getting through the's just something I've gotta be aware of. You know I haven't pitched alot a whole lot already this year so it's just something I've got to be conscious of."

"The fourth or fifth innings I felt my legs get a little says something maybe between innings ride a bike for a couple minutes, other than that it was fine."

Hill failed to speculate what his next assignment would be, deferring to the team and admitting he was to meet with the doctors and the team Wednesday morning.

After Hill finished, Nats' prospect Jordan Zimmermann took over and completed the shutout. Zimmermann went four scoreless innings, allowing two hits and three walks with six strikeouts. He got into a little trouble in the top of the ninth, but was able to escape to deliver the 2-0 victory in the home opener for the faithful at Pfitzner Stadium. The P-Nats runs were courtesy of a two-run home run by shortstop Seth Bynum.

NATS NOTES: Manager Manny Acta and bench coach Pat Corrales watch Hill's performance from behind homeplate, with assorted other Nats officials and several radar guns.

The Nats placed 1B Dmitri Young on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to April 3 because of his aching back. They activated catcher Johnny Estrada, who was on a rehab assignment at AAA Columbus. Estrada is a switch hitter, which will allow Acta to be a little more creative with pinch hitting duties.

All photos (C) Cheryl Nichols 2008.


Anonymous said...

Just a quick correction - the Potomac Nationals are high A, not low.

Griff said...

I heard WTEM's "sports reporters" just ripping Dmitri Young and the $5 million deal the Nats gave him. What the chances Young can get into some sort of shape this season (and why is he so heavy right now?)? or is his back and weight (and diabetes) going to be a season long issue? will the Nats deal him to an AL team so he can DH?

Dave said...

Young is a liability. they re-signed him not knowing what they were going to get from Johnson. he has no trade value while he's hurt. he's just an expensive pinch hitter, as much as i love the guy.