Updates on Kimball, Karns, Paul and Hague

Right-hander Cole Kimball has continued his rehab from a torn rotator cuff at Double-A Harrisburg.

Kimball has made stops with the Gulf Coast League Nationals, Single-A Hagerstown and Single-A Potomac, accumulating an 0-1 record with a 6.75 ERA in five games, four of them starts, totaling 5 1/3 innings. His roughest outing was June 28 at Salem, when he allowed three homers in 2/3 of an inning.

It will be a good move for Kimball because he will be reunited with Harrisburg pitching coach Paul Menhart, who has worked with Kimball for many years and knows his mechanics inside and out. Kimball has said his shoulder feels like he never had surgery.

The Potomac Nationals will return from their road trip July 4, the game will be a big one in more ways than one. The 6:35 p.m. matchup against Frederick will be the first game back for the P-Nats since a fire gutted the second floor front offices at the stadium. The employees now use trailers set up at Pfitzner stadium.

The game itself will feature the P-Nats best pitcher to date in Nathan Karns against the Orioles top prospect, Dylan Bundy. Karns has struck out 32 batters in his last three games and has a fastball that consistently registers between 93 and 95 mph.

Potomac shortstop Ricky Hague earned hitter of the week honors in the Carolina League. He had at least a base hit in each of the seven games, connecting for a .464 (13-for-28) average with six extra base hits and one homer. The 23-year old crossed the plate eight times and had six RBIs. He told me two weeks ago his shoulder is not completely 100 percent, but this is certainly an indication he is building strength into July.

And finally, a relative stunner from Triple-A Syracuse, where outfielder Xavier Paul has opted out of his contract with the Nationals, and has elected to become a free agent, according to this report.

Paul was hitting .318 in 59 games for Triple-A Syracuse, and has been red hot at the plate the last five games, going 9-for-20 (.450) since June 28. He had 16 doubles, one triple, eight homers and 44 RBI this season for the Chiefs.

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