Hill misses honor of Opening Night nod

Hill misses honor of Opening Night nod

WASHINGTON -- Sunday night should have been special for Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill. He was once scheduled to be the Opening Night starter against the Braves, but Odalis Perez took the mound, while Hill watched from the dugout, still recovering from right forearm tightness.

"I thought about [pitching the opener] in the offseason," Hill said. "It was one of those 'What ifs,' but I don't think I got to the point where I said, 'OK, I'm going to set myself up for this day to get lined up.'"

Hill, who is currently on the disabled list, is expected to pitch through the pain and is slated to make his first start of the season on April 13 against the Braves.

On Saturday, Hill pitched three innings in a Minor League game. He felt soreness in the first two innings, but the pain subsided by the third.

"I felt like I was getting better extension, not fighting it really," Hill said. "So, all in all, I was getting back to where I needed to be."

Hill will go back to Florida to pitch in an extended Minor League Spring Training game on Thursday. He is expected to pitch four innings. If things go well, Hill will then go to Class A Potomac -- weather permitting -- to make a five-inning appearance later in the week.

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