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Hill gets good news on forearm

Hill gets good news from second opinion

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VIERA, Fla. -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill received a second opinion on his sore right forearm on Tuesday, and the results were positive.

An examination performed at Duke Medical Center in Durham, N.C., confirmed that the radial nerve in his forearm is normal and does not require surgery. Hill is expected to be shut down for a couple of days and then start his rehabilitation program. He is listed as day-to-day.

"It's good news in the sense that that MRI said everything is clear," Hill said. "We have to figure out how to get it under control. We'll start [taking] the medicine today. Hopefully, it will calm it down. There is nothing structurally wrong, so I should be able to move forward."

Hill has been experiencing tightness in the forearm for more than a month, but managed to throw in bullpen and live batting practice sessions. In his last batting practice session last week, Hill was in a lot of pain.

"It got bad the last time I threw," Hill said. "It got to the point where I couldn't be up for a full season. A short period of time I could go through it. If I can get it under control a little bit more, I have no problems pitching with discomfort. ... I have to get to the point where I'm not going to change my mechanics like I did last year -- where I might injure the elbow."

There's no telling when Hill will return to action. Both Hill and general manager Jim Bowden are optimistic that Hill will be ready for Opening Day, but manager Manny Acta seemed to think that Hill needed more time to recover.

"I don't want to be too quick pulling the trigger, but this does not put him on schedule to be ready for Opening Day," Acta said. "If you are going to shut him down, then he [has to] start over with a throwing program and [build up the arm a little bit]. So it's an uphill kind of predicament to say that he is going to start the season [on time]."

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During his eight years in professional baseball, Hill has never been injury-free. When he was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 First-Year Player Draft, Hill already had sore 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 would pitch through the injury, but he changed his mechanics and it ended up hurting his forearm. Hill ended up missing three months of the season.

Hill ended up having surgery on the forearm on Sept. 26 and then had shoulder surgery two weeks later.

"A part of me is saying, 'Uncle. What's next?' And a part of me is getting angry," said Hill "... I'm getting sick and tired of being shut down. [A part of me is saying] I don't care how much it hurts, let's just pitch.'"

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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