Nationals' Hague Picks Up Where He Left Off In 2011





WASHINGTON—Following a 13-month layoff to recover from a torn labrum, middle infielder Rick Hague was back at high Class A Potomac and feeling stronger than ever.

Not only did he pick up where he left off at the plate, but he also was more confident with his throwing. The 23-year-old had been in extended spring training until late April, putting in hours of work with infield coordinator Jeff Garber.

"I throw better now than I did before surgery, I would say that," said Hague, a third-round pick out of Rice in 2010. "It's more accurate and consistent."

At Potomac, Hague was sharing time at shortstop with Zach Walters, who had rebounded from a hand injury that forced him to go to extended spring. Hague had started four games at shortstop, two at second base and three at DH.

A righthanded hitter, Hague batted .313/.361/.344 in 32 at-bats. In his fifth game, he went 4-for-5 with a game-ending single.

Hague also started hot with Potomac in 2011, batting 5-for-14 (.357) with two doubles and a home run. Then he hurt his shoulder on a slide at second base in his fourth and final game of the season.

"It just popped out and went back in," Hague said, "but I had torn my labrum too badly to hold it in place."

An MRI exam showed the tear, but Hague tried two months of rehab before having surgery performed by Nationals medical director Wiemi Douoguih.

Hague spent most of his time at DH in minor league camp this spring, occasionally participating in fielding drills, while he learned to throw with his rebuilt shoulder.

"I've just become more efficient I would say, working with Garber," Hague said. "It's just producing a better throw to first and on all different kinds of plays."

CAPITAL GAINS

• After working on mechanical issues in extended spring training, 20-year-old lefthander Robbie Ray retired the first seven hitters he faced in the Carolina League but had a 16.50 ERA after two starts covering six innings. "You can see he's got good stuff, so once he gets a little more under control he'll be fine," Potomac manager Brian Rupp said after Ray's first start.

• Double-A Harrisburg lefthander Danny Rosenbaum was leading the Eastern League in ERA with a 4-0, 0.81 start through 45 innings. The 24-year-old had walked three and struck out 27.