Rich Hill took the mound Saturday afternoon against the Oakland Athletics for his first start in a Cactus League game since March 14. The Los Angeles Dodgers’ lefty had twice thrown on a backfield at Camelback Ranch during his time between Major League games.
After a strong start to the spring, Hill regressed a bit, which has been par for course throughout his career during the spring. Saturday’s start saw much of the same mixed results.
Hill retired just one of the first four batters faced, issuing two walks and surrendering a three-run home run during that stretch. He walked three and allowed four runs through two innings.
The 37-year-old ultimately allowed four runs on four hits and issued four walks, but had six strikeouts over 3.2 innings pitched.
Despite the rough line, Hill believed the start was his best of the spring, according to Andy McCullough of the L.A. Times:
“To me, this was the best outing that I’ve had all spring,” Hill said. “It’s because of the way the ball came out of my hand. I know the results weren’t glaringly outstanding, but the way the fastball came out of my hand and the way the curveball came out of my hand was going in the right direction.”
Hill didn’t factor into the decision, though is 0-2 with an 8.03 ERA and 1.86 WHIP over five spring starts. He presumably will take the mound once more prior to the regular season, though like with other starting pitchers, it will be an abridged outing.
In previously discussing his struggles thus far, Hill felt he was making progress toward reaching the level necessary to succeed once the games are no longer meaningless. Last year, Hill felt he didn’t reach that point for the A’s until his third or fourth start of the regular season.