When an MRI confirmed Rich Hill had suffered a flexor strain in his left forearm, the veteran estimated he would have to refrain from throwing for a period of four to six months. Hill and the Los Angeles Dodgers nonetheless maintained a return this season was expected.
The 39-year-old received a PRP injection at the time of undergoing the examination in effort to stimulate the healing process. Hill recently said he was progressing through a throwing program without any discomfort or setbacks.
He expected to return as a starter but acknowledged time to build back up was an issue. At the conclusion of the Dodgers’ homestand this week, manager Dave Roberts essentially ruled out the possibility of Hill contributing as a member of the rotation.
“I think if you’re looking at the calendar and how much time we have, it’s more of get him healthy and build him up in some reliever capacity,” Roberts said. “To kind of be so optimistic that we can build him up as a starter to 100 pitches, I just don’t see that being feasible.”
However, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman believes the club may still have the option to stretch Hill out, according to Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times:
“The question is, do we have time to build him up to 90 to 100 pitches?” Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said. “And I think we do.”
While it remains to be seen what role the left-hander will fill upon coming off the injured list, what is clear is September will essentially be treated like a Spring Training. With Minor League seasons winding to a close, Hill figures to make his appearances with the Dodgers, increasing his workload one inning at a time.
If it is determined that Hill is best suited pitching out of the bullpen, he pointed to the middle of September as being the point in which he would need to begin preparing and exploring the viability of pitching on back-to-back days.
Regardless of how the Dodgers ultimately utilize Hill, he is fully on board with any role. “Any way to help,” he said at the time of suffering the injury. “Obviously, I think starting would be the priority. But again, it all depends on how this is going to play out time-wise.”