Dodgers News: Rich Hill Was Determined, Felt Confident In Health To Return At End Of 2019 Season
Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Rich Hill in Game 4 of the 2019 NLDS
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

An opportunity presented itself when Clayton Kershaw was saddled by shoulder trouble, but a knee strain ultimately prevented Rich Hill from taking the mound on Opening Day for the Los Angeles Dodgers this past season.

Though he managed to make his 2019 debut at the end of April, the left-hander was hampered by injuries for most of the year. Hill suffered a strained flexor tendon in a start against the Baltimore Orioles on June 19, which again sidelined him for the foreseeable future.

While he was informed that his UCL remained in good shape, he wouldn’t return to a Major League mound until the second week of September.

Hill managed to make three shortened shorts that month and earned a spot on the Dodgers’ National League Division Series roster. His lone appearance against the Washington Nationals came in Game 4, though it was another brief outing that saw him struggle with his command.

In 2.2 innings of work, Hill allowed two hits and one run, walking four of the 13 batters he faced. The 39-year-old was tabbed with a no-decision as the Dodgers suffered a 6-1 defeat to the Nationals.

While it proved to be a difficult end to his 2019 campaign, Hill revealed that he was confident in his health and ability to pitch in meaningful games for the Dodgers, via David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports:

“I guess the short of it is, going out and playing long toss, I would have to get to a point where I would wait for my elbow to fill up with fluid and get through this point where the pain was pretty intense. After I was done pitching, a couple times, the next day I didn’t even want to pick up a baseball. Going to throw a baseball was the last thing on my mind because I knew it hurt so bad.

“I wouldn’t have gone out there if I thought I was able to just get through games, but I was able to throw the ball the way I wanted to. That’s why I was continuously going out there. I think it’s just something that we all love what we do and hopefully we all go out there and have that passion for whatever it is we’re doing. That’s what I have for baseball. I’m going to continue to keep doing that until I can’t throw anymore.”

Shortly after the Dodgers were eliminated by the Nationals, Hill underwent surgery to reattach a torn portion of the UCL in his left elbow. The operation will keep him sidelined through at least June of the 2020 season.

While he expressed an interest in returning to the Dodgers as a free agent, he ultimately signed a one-year contract with the Minnesota Twins. Hill reunited with Kenta Maeda, whom the Twins ultimately traded for.

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