PHOENIX — Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill continued his Cactus League wildness on Tuesday afternoon, but was still effective against the Reds in his longest outing of the spring, and saw signs of improvement.
Hill allowed one run in 3⅔ innings, striking out three, but also issued three four-pitch walks. He didn’t allow a hit until the fourth inning, but the RBI single by Zack Cozart was Hill’s 60th and final pitch of the game.
"He really didn't have command of any of his pitches,” manager Dave Roberts said. “Results withstanding, Rich didn't have a good feel today.”
So far this spring, Hill has 10 walks in 8⅔ innings to go with his seven strikeouts, and a 7.27 ERA.
"I don't think I've ever really had a great spring training. Though at the same time, you do want to see some good results,” Hill said. “Today there were some good pitches thrown, and I can take that into this week and get ready for the next outing.”
In 20⅔ spring training innings in 2016-2017 combined, Hill has walked 25 and struck out 16 while allowing 23 runs for a 10.02 ERA.
Last year he walked 15 batters in 12 spring innings, then walked just 33 batters in 110⅓ regular season frames.
“Of any player in camp, we have to stay away from the results with Rich. Even last year, he didn't have a good camp, but he came out of the gates really sharp. I don't know if it's the desert air that gets him with the breaking ball,” Roberts said. “We know he'll be fine.”
Hill is healthy and building up his pitch count, still with three starts remaining before the regular season. Roberts said Hill might get an extra day before his next scheduled start, something Hill will likely get twice before starting the third game of the regular season, on April 5.
Hill was pleased with his curveball on Tuesday. He wasn’t on board with blaming the Arizona elevation with the trouble he has had with it in the past.
"I don't know if I really buy it, but there is obviously science behind it. There is less density in the air here, but for me right now it's just getting the conviction behind the fastball and attacking hitters with that,” Hill said. “After that, everything else falls into place.
"Mechanically, just getting more conviction behind the fastball is the biggest step moving forward. Overall it's still a work in progress, for sure.”