SEATTLE –- When Rich Hill goes to bed Friday night, he will do so knowing that he’s going to pitch on Saturday.
From that standpoint, the A’s left-hander would already appear to be ahead of the game. Hill’s Oakland debut came under some crazy circumstances on Monday, when he got a call at about noon from manager Bob Melvin that he would be handling the season-opening start that night in place of Sonny Gray, who was ill with the stomach flu.
Hill wasn’t his sharpest, hitting two batters and lasting just 2 2/3 innings against the White Sox. But he didn’t use the late notice as an excuse after that game. Likewise, he doesn’t see a great advantage heading into Saturday’s start just because he’s on a normal routine.
“You’re ready when you’re called upon to pitch,” Hill said Friday afternoon.
What does have him encouraged is the work he’s done between starts as he continues to try to groove his pitching mechanics. It’s been a work in progress since the start of spring training, as Hill didn’t exhibit quality command of his pitches until his final Cactus League start. He’ll try to get back on track Saturday night against the Mariners.
“I’ve done some good work in between my last start and tomorrow, and I’m just looking forward to it,” Hill said. “There’s obviously been some (lack of) consistency with the delivery and trying to find a consistent release point. I think that’s something that’s been getting better from where I was at the beginning of spring training. It’s coming, but it hasn’t been as smooth a transition.”
If there’s a chill in the air at Safeco Field on Saturday night, that’s just fine with Hill. He was born and raised in Boston and pitched collegiately at Michigan. He’s used to taking the mound in cold weather.
“I love the cold,” he said. “And this isn’t cold to me. Anything below 30 is cold. Forty to 50 degrees is nice.”
Josh Reddick felt some tightness in his back before Thursday’s game and had some discomfort again during the A’s plane ride to Seattle. Melvin penciled him in at designated hitter Friday night in order to give him “half a day” off. Chris Coghlan drew the start in right field.
In other injury news, infielder Eric Sogard (neck strain) was scheduled to take batting practice Friday with Single-A Stockton. He will hit against Henderson Alvarez during a simulated game Sunday, and if that goes well, Sogard will likely head out on a rehab assignment shortly after that.