Rich Hill began the spring with two hitless innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. His curveball was in midseason form, and Hill was one walk from having an unblemished 2017 debut. But from there the all-too-familiar Spring Training struggles set in.
The veteran left-hander allowed four runs and was chased in the second inning of his next start. Hill allowed three runs and again failed to make it out of the second inning in an ensuing outing. He was often critical of his lack of fastball and curveball command.
Despite an encouraging start on March 14, Hill next pitched in a Minor League game at Camelback Ranch to continue refining his mechanics. Returning to a Cactus League game didn’t yield positive results, but Hill was sharp against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Friday night.
In similar fashion to Kenta Maeda after his final tuneup of the spring, Hill expressed satisfaction with his performance, via J.P. Hoornstra of the Southern California News Group:
“Everything is going in the right direction,” Hill said. “Today was a good outing and a good way to finish spring training.”
“The ball was coming out of my hand well today, both the slider and curveball were the best I’ve seen this spring. And the fastball played well too,” he said. “There was pretty weak contact throughout the game and that’s an indicator of how the ball is coming out of my hand.”
The 37-year-old finished Spring Training 1-2 with a 6.19 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 15 walks and 15 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched across six starts. Last spring, he sported an 11.25 ERA in four starts for the Oakland Athletics.
Hill’s next time on the mound will be in the third of a four-game series against the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. He threw six innings of one-hit ball and finished with eight strikeouts in a start against the Padres last September.