After his offense staked him four first-inning runs, Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill took the mound for the first time this spring against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch.
As quickly as it took him to jog out to the mound and get loose, Hill was already making his way back to the dugout and then into the clubhouse as he needed just seven pitches to retire the White Sox in order on a strikeout, pop-up and lineout.
While the outing was a short one, Hill was happy to be back on a Major League mound competing for his team. “It felt great. I’m always excited to get out there every Spring Training,” Hill said.
“The more times you can get out there, the more comfortable you get in your mechanics. Getting back out there and competing is something I love and enjoy. For me, it’s not, ‘Ho-hum, it’s Spring Training.’ I really enjoy every chance I get to go out there and compete. Today’s the beginning of the work in the games and the field. I look forward to the next outing.”
Hill made some mechanical changes this offseason, which played a big role in him being so eager to get on a mound and face live hitters. “One of the reasons why is to make sure I can get into my mechanics,” Hill began.
“What I mean by that is, change up my deliveries, change up the speed of my deliveries. That’s part of my game, is being able to accelerate and decelerate the ball. Whether that be with the breaking ball or fastball. And you can do that a large amount of times and perfect in bullpens. That’s what helps you get better out in the games, but really getting out in the games is what is the key.”
Up until Saturday, all of the Dodgers’ work this spring had come on the practice fields. How hard the team has been working showed as soon as the game started though when they scored four runs in the first inning and led 7-1 through four innings.
Hill emphasized the importance of keeping up that intensity on the back fields and treating the live bullpen sessions and Cactus League games the same as they would in the regular season.
“I think everybody has an agreement with themselves that they’ll give 100 percent of their effort every time they go out there and realize these opportunities don’t come around all the time,” he said. “Even though it’s Spring Training, you have to have the foresight to understand how fortunate we are to go out there and play.
“That’s something that, even though this is considered a practice game or Spring Training, you have to have that mindset. How we practice is how we should play, and I think that’s something that does absolutely translate over.”