MESA, Ariz. – Just down the street from Hohokam Stadium, Rich Hill took the mound at the A’s minor league complex Sunday trying to right his mechanics.
He said his five-inning, 87-pitch outing against minor league hitters was progress.
“I threw some really good breaking balls, threw some really good fastballs and some good changeups,” Hill said. “For the most part, it was going in the right direction. A positive day.”
The A’s wanted to avoid having Hill face the Chicago White Sox, since he’ll see them in his first regular season start April 5. But pitching in a minor league game also gave Hill a good setting in which to smooth out some mechanical issues he had during three Cactus League starts, when he issued 12 walks in 7 2/3 innings.
[RELATED: Doolittle dealing with slight triceps strain]
Hill didn’t give up a run and allowed just one hit Sunday. However, he hit three batters and walked two by his count (a press box announcement mentioned three walks but no hit batsmen).
But it’s all relative. Compared to his prior struggles, Hill said he noticed marked improvement in both fastball and curve ball command, two areas that have given him problems. He also liked his fastball velocity (between 90 and 93 mph). After time spent watching video and working on mechanics, Hill says he was able to put some of the improvements into practice.
“I was working over my feet, staying closed a lot longer, instead of being more upright and coming off of my pitches,” he said. “The direction was better, was the biggest thing. My direction toward the plate was better.”
His next scheduled start comes Friday against the Angels in Mesa.