ATLANTA -- Nationals right-hander Shawn Hill had arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow on Friday. Dr. James Andrews performed the surgery in Pensacola, Fla.
Some small spurs in the posterior elbow were removed, and Dr. Andrews didn't find any further damage to the elbow. Hill is expected to be ready for Spring Training in 2009, but the Nationals are not relying on him to be one of the five starters on Opening Day next season. Hill will begin a rehab program next week to work on motion and strength, which will continue in the offseason.
"It's an encouraging sign," Nationals general manager Jim Bowden said. "You always worry about calcification after Tommy John surgery. Certainly, we are glad that Dr. Andrews found the problem and corrected it."
Meanwhile, first baseman Ronnie Belliard had an MRI on Friday, and the doctors confirmed that he has a bad right groin strain. After saying that Belliard would likely be out for the season, manager Manny Acta changed his tune and didn't rule out Belliard possibly playing the final games.
"He feels a little better today," Acta said. "It's not a tough injury to deal with, obviously. We'll see where it takes us. We are not going to put a timetable on it."
Acta also gave the impression that Dmitri Young would not play every day once he returns to the team on Tuesday against the Mets. Acta gave an explanation why that could be the case.
"Dmitri doesn't have to prove anything here by playing," Acta said. "I'm happy to have him back. He hasn't played in a long time. If we threw him out there every single day and try to push him, we might hurt him worse. The playing time for Dmitri Young is not an issue here."
On Wednesday, the Nationals sent out an e-mail to reporters that said right-hander Collin Balester would not pitch on Sunday against the Braves because of a mild left glut strain and would instead pitch against the Mets on Tuesday.
But Acta said on Friday there was never a thought of pushing Balester back to Tuesday. Balester had a bullpen session on Thursday, didn't feel any pain and will start on Sunday against the Braves. Left-handers John Lannan and Odalis Perez will pitch in the two-game series against the Mets.
Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.