Spring Training Preview: Rich Hill Returns To Cactus League Game, Dodgers Host Athletics
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Dodgers are down to their final nine Spring Training games before their Opening Day matchup with the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium. This is essentially crunch time for players competing to make the active roster, as the front office will soon need to settle on multiple decisions.

That does not apply, however, to Rich Hill, who takes the mound against the Oakland Athletics for his fifth start of the spring. Although he has shown flashes of the expected dominant fastball-curveball combination, he also has had slips in command.

The 37-year-old has allowed eight runs (seven earned) on five hits and issued 10 walks in 8.2 innings pitched. That equates to 7.27 ERA and 1.73 WHIP, though Hill is accustomed to struggling throughout Spring Training.

His four outings have truly been feast or famine. After pitching two perfect innings in his Spring Training debut, Hill allowed a combined seven earned runs in three innings over his next two starts.

However, Hill responded well in his last start against the Cincinnati Reds, allowing one run (unearned) on one hit and three walks. He nonetheless pitched in a Minor League game on March 19 in lieu of making another Cactus League start.

Hill stretched out to five innings, throwing 79 pitches without allowing a run on two singles, and recording 10 strikeouts. He came away encouraged by the results and viewed it as a stepping stone toward being prepared for the regular season.

Grant Dayton, Josh Fields, Chris Hatcher, Kenley Jansen and Sergio Romo are expected to pitch against the A’s. For Romo, it would be his first appearance since returning from the World Baseball Classic with a sore back.

The Dodgers face Jesse Hahn, who also makes his fifth start of Spring Training. Hahn allowed three runs in 1.2 innings in his 2017 debut, but followed with seven scoreless innings in two games (one start).

However, the tables turned during his last start against the Colorado Rockies, as Hahn allowed seven runs on eight hits and walked a pair in 3.1 innings pitched. The right-hander is currently in a battle for the final spot in the Athletics’ starting rotation.

Hahn’s repertoire consists of a filthy curveball, along with a fastball that touches above 95 MPH.

Yasiel Puig returns to the lineup, after being scratched Friday due to going through additional work with Dodgers hitting coach Turner Ward. Other regulars in the lineup include Justin Turner, Adrian Gonzalez and Joc Pederson.

Dodgers lineup:

2B: Chase Utley
LF: Andrew Toles
3B: Justin Turner
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
CF: Joc Pederson
RF: Yasiel Puig
C: Bobby Wilson
SS: Chris Taylor
P: Rich Hill

Athletics lineup:

LF: Alejandro De Aza
SS: Adam Rosales
1B: Ryon Healy
3B: Matt Chapman
CF: Mark Canha
C: Bruce Maxwell
DH: Ryan Lavarnway
RF: Chris Parmelee
2B: Josh Rodriguez