FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Southpaw Rich Hill was scratched from his scheduled start Sunday due to stiffness in his left elbow, an ailment that he doesn't deem serious and would've liked to pitch through.

"It's just precautionary," said Hill, who had been slated to start against the Nationals in Viera, Fla. "We're going to wait another day. Everything's fine, though. I threw [Saturday], played catch. There's no real big concern."

Hill, who has been labeled a favorite for one of Baltimore's three vacant rotation slots, said that the Orioles would re-evaluate him Monday and that he could throw as early as his arm would allow. That could mean a berth in Tuesday's intrasquad game, but it could also mean being slotted somewhere later in the week.

"It's early," said Hill. "If it was during the season, I'd want to get out there and pitch. I'm not saying these games don't mean anything, but we want to take precautions. One day here could possibly save months, if something happened. You always want to be cautious, but at the same time, I'm itching to get out there and pitch."

The Orioles acquired Hill from the Cubs for a player to be named during the winter, and the return from Chicago is largely contingent on how well he pitches for Baltimore. Orioles manager Dave Trembley said earlier in the spring that Hill would have to pitch his way out of a rotation slot, but plans can change over the course of the spring.

Many analysts -- Hill included -- have suggested that the former fifth-round pick could benefit under the tutelage of pitching coach Rick Kranitz and bullpen coach Alan Dunn, who both tutored him in the Cubs' Minor League system. And Kranitz, who spoke right before leaving for the game in Viera, doesn't seem concerned.

"We're not going to take a chance with that," he said. "He wants to pitch, and I think it's such a long camp it doesn't really matter at this point. I don't want to take a chance because he has been coming along. He's taken some nice strides forward. He's been throwing a lot of drills and things like that.

"So we're just going to take it easy on him, at least the next couple days. I'm hoping that he can get going and get into the intrasquad game in two days. He could pitch today, probably."

Hill, who starred for the Cubs in 2007 with an 11-8 record and a 3.92 ERA, struggled last season with back problems and a dwindling command of the strike zone. He appears to be healthy now, though, and is hoping to have a strong Grapefruit League schedule that will help him carry his success to the regular season.

"I think Spring Training is vitally important to get off to a good start," said Hill. "It definitely carries over into the season. That's one thing I've always stressed to myself in the past, and I look forward to doing this Spring Training."