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Is The Washington Nationals' Injury Bug Back?

It's Happening Again...

First it was Wily Mo Pena, who came up with a strained right shoulder. Jesus Flores was next with a strained right elbow...and now Shawn Hill, who was being talked about as a starter again in the last few days, fails to make his scheduled appearance this afternoon with the all-too-familiar right forearm discomfort. Hill must be the most frustrated of all, as he's simply been unable to ever really start a career that stretches back to his MLB debut on June 29th 2004 with Montreal, through his last start of 2008 on June 24th and includes only 37 starts and 206.1 IP, in which he's gone (7-15) with a 4.93 ERA and 130 K's...

Back in October, I took a look at The Bill James Handbook's Pitcher Projections, for the Nationals, and for Shawn Hill, in particular:

Shawn Hill '09 Projections
Player Age GS IP  K HR W L ERA
Shawn Hill  28 15 75.0 115  24 4 5 4.12

Hill might very well still meet those projections, but a trip to Dr. Andrews is never a good thing...and I was even skeptical at the time I posted the projections, before any of today's news, as I wrote:

• - 15 starts from Shawn Hill? That would be the second highest total of his career...and Mr. James has '09 Hill pitching like the '06 Hill, who had enough potential to keep the Nationals interested in having him in the starting rotation to this day in spite of the constant arm issues...but 15 starts?"'s Bill Ladson went so far as to place Hill in the Nationals' starting rotation recently, in an article entitled, "Nationals rotation looks to be a strength", where Mr. Ladson wrote:

"The Nationals now have to find a fourth and fifth starter, and the choices they have are not bad. While they are cautious, the club really wants right-hander Shawn Hill to be that fourth guy."

Washington Post writer Chico Harlan's Nationals Journal post this morning entitled, "Uh-Oh. Shawn Hill. James Andrews", brought all the same questions back up again...Will Shawn Hill be able to pitch? What exactly is wrong with Hill's forearm/elbow? Will Shawn Hill ever get a chance to show the baseball world what Washington and Montreal fans know he's capable of doing on the mound? Mr. Harlan quotes a saddened  DC Manager Manny Acta, who sympathized with Hill's situation, stating:

"'Obviously I feel bad for the kid, because he's been going through it for a while now,' Manager Manny Acta said. 'Hopefully he comes back with good news from Dr. Andrews. But you know, we kind of prepared ourselves for something like this.'"

For those of you who follow the FEDERALBASEBALL.COM TWITTERFEED...You'll know that I was wary and waiting to see if Hill could make it to Opening Day as part of the Nationals' starting rotation, as I wrote at 9:00 am this morning:

"Shawn Hill on the mound @ 1:05pm against Detroit. Can the old Expos' draft pick make it to Opening Day injury free?"

And just over three hours later:

"Uh, Yeah...Looks like Shawn Hill won't make it to Opening Day...pulled from start, headed to Dr. Andrews."

Now of course, Hill didn't ever start, and he may indeed come back, but the Nationals are not going to be able to count on it...and another spot in the rotation just opened up...