MESA, Ariz. – The bad news for Rich Hill: His command was off Saturday in his spring debut for the A’s.
The good news: His three-walk outing showed him exactly what he needs to work on.
Hill’s curve ball is his best pitch, but as with most pitchers, it all revolves around fastball command. That was missing for the lefty in his 1 1/3 innings against the Milwaukee Brewers at Hohokam Stadium.
“Overall, I thought it was pretty poor,” Hill said of his outing. “… If I execute my pitches, stay down with the fastball and get on top of the ball and throw downhill, it’s a different story. That’s what I’m gonna work on going into my next outing.”
Hill issued three walks in the top of the first but managed to strand the bases loaded when he got Will Middlebrooks to look at strike three. However, that marathon inning ensured Hill wouldn’t be long for the game. Rymer Liriano led off the second by slicing a curve down the right field line for a triple. After Colin Walsh’s RBI groundout, manager Bob Melvin came and got Hill.
After years of bouncing from team to team as a reliever, Hill has a rotation job locked in with the A’s after his November free-agent signing. It’s the first time since way back in 2007, when he was with the Chicago Cubs, that Hill entered spring training with a starting role secured. So this spring is about fine-tuning and prepping for the long haul of the regular season for the soon-to-be 36-year-old.
But it was a subtle detail of the game that Hill seemed most upset at himself with. He got a late break in backing up third base on Liriano’s triple to right.
“That was one of the more disappointing things I thought, just hesitating to back up third base,” he said. “Not reacting to the play … I would consider that bad, bad body language.”
Hill’s next start is scheduled for Thursday against the Los Angeles Dodgers.