Rich Hill made his first rehab start Friday night for the Frederick Keys, against the Potomac Nationals, pitching three solid innings before being removed and finishing his work on the bullpen mound.
Hill gave up one run, it was earned, on one hit, hit a batter, and struck out three without walking a batter. The night was a very quick one for Hill who got through the three innings on just 33 pitches (24 strikes, 9 balls). Hill hit the Potomac Nationals’ Boomer Whiting who then stole second and third on tremendous jumps, leading to the lone run given up.
Hill actually picked off Whiting at first base, but Brandon Waring, the Key’s first baseman, could not get the ball to second in time. After taking third, Francisco Plasencia grounded out to short, but Whiting scored. As for the outing, Rich Hill said it was “good.”
“I threw a lot of strikes, some really good curveballs, some really good fastballs,” Hill said. “After driving for 20 hours and sleeping on the floor of my apartment I felt that was pretty good.”
Hill said he drove up to Baltimore from Sarasota, Fl., and moved into his apartment last night and the quick turnaround is what may have affected his velocity more than anything. His fastball was topping off at about 85 on the radar gun hooked up to the scoreboard, but he said he was probably averaging 90 m.p.h. Hill mentioned that he will normally rest between 90-93 once he gets back into a regular routine.
The original plan was for Hill to throw between 60-65 pitches in this outing, but in getting through three so quickly it was decided that Hill would finish in the bullpen. It was not his decision.
“I think it was just to get up three times and get up-and-down more than once,” Hill said. “It was efficient, threw a lot of strikes, a lot of first-pitch strikes and it went well.”
The only trouble Hill had on the evening was working with runners on base. Hill has experimented with different pick-off moves in the past as he has struggled at times holding runners, however that was not the focus Friday.
“The first guy that stole (Chris Marrero), I was actually thinking about picking over there before I went,” Hill explained. “I think it’s just something where the focus to focus on what we’ve accomplished: throw strikes and compete and go out there, and it was successful.”
“I think the one thing with picking [Boomer Whiting] off of first, just getting my leg down a little quicker, we probably would have had him at second, but that’s just part of it.”
The most important thing is that Hill got through his first competitive action and he is healthy. The big test will be to see how his arm feels Saturday, but he Hill is not worried about that, he is more worried about his mechanics.
“I’m past that because of the outings down in Sarasota and spring training,” Hill said. “The only thing that happened with the elbow, I think the biggest thing was that throwing the curveball for consistency now, and really finding that release point was the biggest thing.”
As of now there was no plan for a second rehab assignment, but there is one thing Hill can plan on, and that is getting some sleep.