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Notes: Hill will have an MRI on Monday

Notes: Hill to have an MRI on Monday

WASHINGTON -- The questions about right-hander Shawn Hill's ailing right elbow won't become clear until he gets the scheduled MRI on Monday, but the picture about his role in the coming days is beginning to come into focus.

Nationals manager Manny Acta agreed Saturday that Hill appears headed for the disabled list, something the right-hander said he was "99 percent" sure about Friday. Hill and Acta both said on Saturday that the right-hander, pulled after five no-hit innings Friday against Florida, will not take Wednesday's scheduled start against Atlanta.

"I'm going to take it easy for a couple of days, get the MRI and see what's going on exactly and then go from there," Hill said.

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Hill said they're waiting to do the MRI until Monday to let the inflammation in his right elbow calm somewhat, which will let them get a clearer picture of what's going on.

Acta said Hill (3-3, 2.70 ERA in eight starts) is a very important part of the team's future, and the club will treat this matter very carefully. The pitcher also is getting an MRI on the left shoulder he jammed recently against the Cubs, something he said is hurting his mechanics.

"We're not going to rush him back," Acta said. "It's very likely that he'll end up on the DL. We're reluctant to make any type of announcement until we have the MRI."

Taking a look: Outfielder Alex Escobar will be working with the Nationals throughout this homestand so the team can gauge how his recovery from last September's shoulder surgery is progressing.

Escobar has been in extended Spring Training, and both general manager Jim Bowden and Acta said they're hoping he can return at some point in June.

Acta said Escobar's been doing a lot of designated hitter work and said the Nationals would like to get him back without having to send him out on a rehab assignment.

"He's doing very well," Acta said.

Escobar also could serve as a DH if he makes it back in time for the Nationals' Interleague play schedule, but that's a decision the team will worry about then.

A win is a win: The team's 6-0 victory over Florida on Friday means the Nationals need just one win over the final two games to win their first series of the year.

The Nationals (10-25) have lost nine series and split three more. A split of the final two games would get that elusive first series win.

Still a pain in the foot: First baseman Dmitri Young wasn't in the lineup for a fourth straight game due to a slowly-healing sore left Achilles.

"The Achilles is a tough injury for a hitter," said Bowden. "He's getting better."

Acta said Young would be available for pinch-hitting, if needed. The skipper said the Nationals want to let Young rest the foot until it's ready to go.

"We're just going to give him as much time as he needs," Acta said. "He's not [going on the] DL at all, but we're going to play it by ear."

Getting back on track: Acta also said patience will be a key to helping newly-acquired outfielder Ryan Langerhans find his hitting stroke once more.

Langerhans has struggled terribly this season, batting just .094, starting the season with Atlanta before being traded to Oakland and then Washington on May 2. Coming into Saturday's game, he was hitting .222 with the Nationals (2-for-9), and Acta said the outfielder's got to slow down a little.

"He's been struggling this year," Acta said. "When that happens, guys tend to chase pitches out of the zone and try to get three hits in one at-bat. We're just trying to calm him down and get him back to where he was before."

Langerhans is a solid defensive outfielder who can play all three positions and made a great diving catch in Friday's 6-0 win. He hit .241 last year with the Braves in 131 games and .267 the previous season.

He hit a single on the first pitch he saw Saturday night.

Don't make changes: Bowden also said that, with the decisions the team has to make about bringing people up due to the injuries, the club doesn't want to change something that's going good, like the progress that Collin Balester is making at Double-A Harrisburg.

Balester is 1-2 with an impressive 2.35 ERA in seven starts. Bowden said he's making "great progress" and the team doesn't want to interfere.

Being a friend: Nationals relief pitcher Jon Rauch will be hosting 80 children from the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Washington, D.C. The families of the children also come along, and this is something Rauch does one Saturday each month.

Coming up: Right-hander Jason Simontacchi (0-1, 6.00) makes his second start for the Nationals in Sunday's 1:35 p.m. series finale. He was the losing pitcher in Tuesday's 6-4 defeat against Milwaukee, but didn't pitch badly, giving up four runs on six hits in six innings. Wes Obermueller (1-1, 3.66) starts for the Marlins.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. MLB.com reporter Bill Ladson contributed to this article. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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