Nats players starting to beat injury bug

Nats players starting to beat injury bug

VIERA, Fla. -- Shawn Hill continues to show that his right forearm injury is a thing of the past. The right-hander is expected to throw his second batting-practice session on Friday and then pitch in a Minor League game on Monday.

"I would like to get in a game sooner than that," Hill said. "I would like to throw today for argument sakes. I feel like I'm ready to go. I don't have sharp pain."

According to Hill, the plan for him is to start the season on the disabled list and then return to the team on April 13.

Meanwhile, catcher Paul Lo Duca (left knee) was scheduled to play his first exhibition game as a designated hitter against the Astros on Thursday, but it rained for most of the day, and manager Manny Acta didn't want to take a chance on Lo Duca running on the wet surface at Space Coast Stadium.

Lo Duca is expected to start behind the plate against the Mets in Port St. Lucie, Fla., on Friday.

Infielder/outfielder Rob Mackowiak, on the other hand, played his first Grapefruit League game against the Astros and started in left field on Thursday. Mackowiak has missed most of the spring because of abdominal problems

Elijah Dukes (right hamstring strain) is expected to accompany the Nationals on their trip on Friday to play the Mets.

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