The Los Angeles Dodgers are at somewhat of a crossroads with Rich Hill, as he’s again saddled by a blister that’s already forced him to the 10-day disabled list this season. The recurring injury is similar to last season when Hill was sidelined five weeks.
The Dodgers expect to decide Monday whether or not to put Hill back on the disabled list. What comes beyond that is anyone’s guess. Manager Dave Roberts said the club needs to re-evaluate Hill’s condition, and one option is placing the veteran left-hander in the bullpen.
“We have to revisit those conversations,” Roberts said. “He’s not built for that, but I know Rich is all about doing what’s best for the team. We obviously haven’t tried him in the bullpen but that’s worthy of a conversation.”
Hill offered to temporarily pitch out of the bullpen in lieu of going on the disabled list nearly two weeks ago. Whether that comes to fruition may be unlikely, but a rehab assignment/pitching in a Minor League game is likely in order for Hill.
“I think that direction makes sense,” Roberts said. “Every time he takes the mound, the uncertainty is tough on everybody, and I know Rich understands that.”
While Hill maintains his latest blister is not as severe as last years, he acknowledged it could worsen. What makes the situation more difficult for the Dodgers are the variables. Hill on Sunday managed to complete three innings.
Dating back to last season, he’s previously pitched into the fifth or sixth inning before feeling heat radiating from his finger. What’s more, Hill first sensed trouble with the blister while in the on-deck circle in the second inning.
The uncertainty is what makes a role as a reliever an option worth some consideration. “Out of the bullpen it wouldn’t be as devastating if something flared up, as opposed a starter,” Roberts explained.
“We still don’t know if it’s 15 pitches where there’s irritation, or 40 or 60 pitches.”