Nats' Hill waits for arbitration decision

PHOENIX -- Washington pitcher Shawn Hill became the first player in the major leagues to go to a salary arbitration hearing this year, asking a panel Friday to award him $775,000 rather than the team's $500,000 offer.

Arbitrators Elizabeth Neumeier, Robert Bailey and Fredric Horowitz were expected to issue a decision during the weekend.

Hill was 1-5 with a 5.83 ERA in 12 starts last year, when he went on the disabled list June 25 because of a sore elbow. He had bone spurs and calcium deposits scraped from his right elbow on Sept. 5 when Dr. James Andrews performed arthroscopic surgery.

Hill earned $402,000 in 2008.

The 27-year-old right-hander missed the 2005 season after elbow-ligament replacement surgery, missed time in 2006 with soreness in his right elbow and was limited to 16 starts in 2007 because of a shoulder injury and a compressed radial nerve in his right forearm.

Still, intrigued by his sinker, the Nationals long have said they consider Hill a potential front-line starter -- if he could stay healthy.

Three other Nationals are among the 20 players still scheduled for hearings, which run through Feb. 20: third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, outfielder Josh Willingham and left-hander Scott Olsen.

Owners won six of eight cases that went to hearings last year and hold a 279-205 advantage since salary arbitration began in 1974. The 110 players who filed for arbitration last year averaged a 120 percent increase, according to a study by The Associated Press.

Philadelphia first baseman Ryan Howard is among those scheduled for hearings. Howard was awarded a raise from $900,000 to $10 million last year rather than the Phillies' $7 million offer. This year, he asked for $18 million and the team offered $14 million.