Hill sharp in bullpen session
Estrada could start season on DL; Dukes set to return
VIERA, Fla. -- The Nationals received good news about right-hander Shawn Hill on Saturday. He had his first bullpen session in weeks and didn't feel any tightness in his right forearm. He threw 25 pitches and was able to throw his fastball and changeup.
Pitching coach Randy St. Claire said it looked like Hill didn't miss a beat while he was on the mound, throwing nothing but strikes.
"I was pretty surprised at how good his command looked and how well he threw the ball," St. Claire said. "The ball jumped out of his hand. He was throwing pretty firm. His location was outstanding. He looked great."
It remains debatable whether Hill will make the Opening Day roster, since time is running out and he has yet to pitch in a Spring Training game. St. Claire said the biggest test will come Sunday, when the question of whether Hill feels any day-after pain will be answered.
"We'll see how he feels [Sunday]. We are taking it day by day," St. Claire said.
Meanwhile, manager Manny Acta said Johnny Estrada will most likely start the season on the disabled list because of a sore right elbow, but Estrada disputed that notion.
He said he is feeling better and getting ready to take part in baseball activities. In fact, Estrada threw from 120 feet without any problems Saturday and said he is anticipating playing in a Minor League game next week.
"I'm not anticipating any more setbacks," Estrada said. "Where we are right now, my arm feels pretty good.
In other news, Lastings Milledge has missed two games with a sore left toe but is expected to play against the Orioles on Sunday.
Ryan Zimmerman, on the other hand, is expected to miss the next couple of games because of a tight right hip flexor. The injury, which occurred against the Braves on Tuesday, is not considered serious. Zimmerman said he could have played the last few games, but the team didn't want to take any chances.
Acta is hoping Elijah Dukes, who has a right hamstring strain, will play Monday 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.