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Notes: Hill wonders 'What if?'

Notes: Hill wonders 'What if?'

WASHINGTON -- On June 27, 2002, the Expos traded center fielder Grady Sizemore, left-hander Cliff Lee and infielder Brandon Phillips to the Indians for right-handers Bartolo Colon and Tim Drew and cash.

At the time of the deal, the Expos were 41-36 and in Wild Card contention, while Sizemore, Lee and Phillips were their top prospects. Omar Minaya, then their general manager, also made the deal because he thought the Expos were going to be contracted.

The Expos ended up fading in the Wild Card race and were never contracted. Today, the trade is considered the worst in the organization's history because it devastated the team's Minor League system for the next few years, while Sizemore became a major star and Lee and Phillips became very good complementary players (Phillips is now with the Reds). Colon ended up being traded to the White Sox after the season and Drew lasted no more than a year in the Expos organization before becoming a free agent.

Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill, who was in the Expos' Minor League system at the time of the deal, said he understood why the trade was made, but wished that Sizemore and Lee had remained within the organization.

"In order for the team to stay, the team was trying to make a push for the playoffs, so it is understandable why they would do the deal," Hill said. "But from a long-term standpoint, if you are going to be around like we were, that's one of those trades you say, 'Please don't do this.' If we had those two guys now, it improves our team immensely."

Lee said he used to think about wearing an Expos uniform until he reached the big leagues in 2003 with Cleveland.

"I didn't think it was the best thing for their future," Lee said. "I don't think they knew for sure that all three of us would pan out the way that we have. If they knew then what they know now, they wouldn't do it."

Sizemore said that he doesn't think about his years with the Expos. Instead, he credits the Indians for making him the superstar that he is today.

"It was a while back," Sizemore said. "I was with the Indians longer than I was there. I was happy for the opportunity in the Montreal organization, but Cleveland is my home now. I don't look back and wonder, 'What if?'"

Injury report: Hill had a setback recently. After playing catch several times in the last week, Hill's right elbow is sore. Hill said he doesn't know the next plan of attack.

Hill has been on the disabled list since May 14, because of a sore left shoulder and right elbow. Hill hurt the shoulder running the bases against the Marlins on April 20. Hill was able to make several more starts, but the shoulder forced him to change his mechanics and he feels it caused the elbow injury.

Change of plans: Right-hander Jason Bergmann, on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow, will now start against the Braves on Monday instead of Tuesday because the team wants him to pitch on five days' rest. Mike Bacsik will now pitch on Tuesday.

Manager Manny Acta said the Nationals will be careful with Bergmann, who will pitch no more than six innings or around 80 pitches.

Minor League roster moves: The Nationals outrighted first baseman Larry Broadway to Triple-A Columbus and left-hander Michael Hinckley and outfielder Frank Diaz to Double-A Harrisburg. The moves mean that all three players are off the 40-man roster.

Broadway, Hinckley and Diaz were once considered top prospects during the Nationals' first season in 2005, but injuries or lack of production made them fall out of favor with the organization.

More Draft signings: The Nationals agreed to terms with their fourth-round selection, catcher Derek Norris. The Nationals have now agreed to terms with 29 of their 53 selections from the Draft.

Last week, Norris was named to the 2007 Louisville Slugger High School All-American Team, shortly after being selected as Gatorade's Baseball Player of the Year for the state of Kansas.

Amateur scouting director Dana Brown said that Norris has good catching skills, as well as a good hitting stroke. Brown believes he will be a power hitter.

Stat of the day: Entering Friday's action, first baseman Dmitri Young was hitting a Major League-leading .440 since May 17.

Did you know: On May 18, the Nationals began a stretch off 34 consecutive games against non-National League East teams. The Nationals were 15-16 against those teams entering Friday's action.

Coming up: The Nationals play the second game of a three-game series against the Indians on Saturday night. Washington left-hander Matt Chico (3-5, 5.35 ERA) will face Cleveland right-hander Paul Byrd (6-3, 4.81 ERA).

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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{"content":["interleague_play" ] }