While Rich Hill was initially scheduled to face Team Japan in Sunday’s exhibition game, the Los Angeles Dodgers opted to pitch the veteran in a Minor League game on a backfield at Camelback Ranch. The setting was more conducive to Hill working on repeating his delivery while still building up innings.
He threw 3.2 innings in a start on March 14, but failed to complete two innings in consecutive outings prior to that. Curveball and fastball command were issues for the left-hander at various points in his start.
Hill didn’t seem to have that same trouble against Minor Leaguers from the Milwaukee Brewers organization, as he struck out 10 in five innings of work. According to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times, Hill was pleased with his day’s work:
“It’s kind of like trying to get all the cylinders firing,” Hill said. “Definitely today we had that going. I was much more consistent with the delivery, which leads to much more conviction with every pitch.”
The 37-year-old historically has not fared well during the spring. Hill pitched to an 11.25 ERA last year, and owns a 7.27 ERA in four Cactus League starts with the Dodgers this year. He’s expressed a confidence the results will be on par with expectations come the regular season.
Hill signed a three-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers during the offseason. He projected to be the team’s No. 2 starter, but now slots third, behind Clayton Kershaw and Kenta Maeda.
Next for Hill should be a return to a Cactus League game, when he’ll be expected to throw six innings.