clear
Friday November 24th, 2017 8:41PM

Hollywood story: Hill goes from Long Island Ducks to Series

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Rich Hill is living a Hollywood story.

Twenty-six months ago, he was pitching for the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League.

Thirteen months ago, he was pulled from a perfect game after seven innings because of his pitch count.

Two months ago, another perfect-game bid was spoiled by a leadoff error in the ninth.

And on Wednesday night, the 37-year-old left-hander will be on the mound for the Los Angeles Dodgers starting Game 2 of the World Series.

"A couple years ago, I was using a bucket in independent ball as a toilet," he recalled last weekend.

Script writers seeking a follow-up to "Bull Durham," ''Field of Dreams" and "The Natural" need look no farther than Dodger Stadium, just 7 miles down the 101 from the Walk of Fame. Hill will take on the Houston Astros, who start Justin Verlander, the MVP of the AL Championship Series.

After a decade in the major leagues, Hill began 2015 with the Washington Nationals' Triple-A team at Syracuse, New York, and was released in June. He signed with the Ducks, struck out seven over five hitless innings on Aug. 2 against the Bridgeport Bluefish, then a week later struck out 14 over six scoreless innings versus the Camden Riversharks.

"I think it's something that people will think of and say, wow, it's just a bunch of guys that are washed up or guys that didn't get an opportunity to make it," he explained Tuesday. "But that's not true. If you actually go to a game and take it in and see, there's a lot of good talent here. It just happens that there wasn't any room for these players in affiliated baseball."

Boston took notice, purchased his contract and brought him back to the big leagues in mid-September.

"It was a great experience. I wouldn't change that for anything," Hill said. "It was learning again, reigniting that fire, reigniting that passion for what we do out there on the field and really getting back into disassociating yourself with the results and just understanding that it is a pitch-to-pitch process and understanding that the moment is all that matters."

He went 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA in four starts with the Red Sox and earned a $6 million, one-year deal with Oakland for 2016. Dealt to the Dodgers that Aug. 1, he went 7-5 with a 2.12 ERA in 20 starts overall, became a free agent again and signed a $48 million, three-year contract to remain with Los Angeles.

At the news conference to announce his big deal, Hill's voice quavered and his face flushed with emotion when he thanked his wife Caitlin; son Brice, who was born in 2011; and son Brooks, who was less than 2 months old when he died in February 2014.

"He was born with multiple issues that we confronted and had to deal with," Hill said at spring training that year. "Unfortunately, he succumbed. He's passed. He taught us a lot of things. Unfortunately, things didn't work out."

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts admires Hill for a passion and intensity that stands out even among hyper-competitive major leaguers.

"He's whacky on his start days," Roberts said. "He gets more mad when he swings and misses than he does giving up a homer. This guy thinks he's Superman on the baseball field. So it's kind of comical at times."

Hill's performance in Los Angeles has been blistering — both good and bad.

He retired his first 21 batters at Miami on Sept. 10 last year when Roberts removed him after 89 pitches. Hill didn't pitch in the majors between May 29 and July 2 because of a strained left groin and between July 17 and Aug. 24 because of a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand.

"I feel sick to my stomach," Roberts said then. "This is probably the worst I've felt after a win."

On Aug. 23 this year, he retired his first 24 batters at Pittsburgh before third baseman Logan Forsythe allowed Jordy Mercer's grounder to bounce off his chest and skip away for an error. Hill pitched no-hit ball until Josh Harrison homered on a fastball leading off the 10th that gave the Pirates a 1-0 win.

Still, his season was interrupted twice by the blister, which sent him to the disabled list from April 7-16 and April 17 to May 16. After returning for the second time, he held opponents to a .194 batting average and averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings, finishing with a 12-8 record.

He didn't get a decision in his first two postseason starts this year, allowing two runs over four innings as the Dodgers beat Arizona 8-5 in Game 2 of the Division Series and giving up one run over four innings during the 4-1 win over the Chicago Cubs in Game 2 of the Championship Series.

Hill thought back to "those times of struggle and in the times of failure in the rehab, the years of rehabbing, not being in an affiliated clubhouse."

"You understand how fortunate you are to play this game and fortunate to be able to get the opportunity to go out there and play," he said.

___

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Baseball , AP National News, AP Online National News, AP Sports - Major League Baseball, AP Sports - Minor League Baseball
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Hollywood story: Hill goes from Long Island Ducks to Series
Rich Hill is living a Hollywood story, going from the Long Island Ducks in the independent Atlantic League to a World Series start in 26 months.
7:45PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Clayton Kershaw gets early standing ovation
Clayton Kershaw is getting a standing ovation and he hasn't thrown his first World Series pitch yet
7:29PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Senate passes $36.5B disaster aid bill; Trump signature next
The Senate has passed a $36.5 billion emergency aid measure to refill disaster accounts
7:29PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Women finally get their day at Pebble Beach for US Open
Pebble Beach finally to host US Women's Open in 2023, and men return in 2027 for 7th time
6:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Astros first baseman Gurriel's hairstyle a hit
Astros first baseman Yuli Gurriel has one of the most unique hairstyles in all of sports
6:40PM ( 1 hour ago )
Civil rights group: School retaliated against cheerleaders
A national civil rights group says it has "grave concerns" about actions taken by a Georgia university after five black cheerleaders knelt during the national anthem at a football game
6:22PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Sports
10 Things to Know for Today
Among 10 Things to Know: AP: Review to confirm Rohingya 'ethnic cleansing'; Trump plans lunch with GOP senators as focus turns to taxes; China lifts Xi's status to most powerful leader in decades
7:14AM ( 12 hours ago )
Late show: MLB postseason games stretch to record length
Major League Baseball postseason games have stretched to a record length
4:12AM ( 15 hours ago )
Astros, Dodgers developed quite a rivalry as division foes
From division foes to World Series opponents: A look back at some of the most memorable games between the Astros and Dodgers
3:10AM ( 16 hours ago )
AP Online Baseball
A capsule look at the World Series
A capsule look at the World Series between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers
5:12AM ( 1 day ago )
World Series patches in place, Dodgers prepare for Astros
The Los Angeles Dodgers spend a lot of time collecting data on other teams to help them prepare, but they're had very few firsthand looks at the Houston Astros going into their World Series matchup.
10:29PM ( 1 day ago )
Dodgers confident SS Seager will be in World Series lineup
Look for Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager to be back in the Los Angeles lineup when the World Series begins
8:45PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Sports - Major League Baseball
Judge, Gregorius, bullpen rally wild-card Yankees past Twins
Aaron Judge, Didi Gregorius and a brilliant bullpen rescued New York from a rugged start and lifted the Yankees to their first postseason victory in five years.
4:36AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Gregorius, Judge, bullpen rally wild-card Yanks past Twins
Didi Gregorius' three-run homer tied the score after Minnesota knocked out Luis Severino in the first inning, a pumped-up Aaron Judge hit a two-run homer in his postseason debut and the New York Yankees beat the Twins 8-4 in the AL wild-card game
12:15AM ( 2 weeks ago )
Mets fire longtime pitching coach and head trainer
Following a painful season, the injury-riddled New York Mets are making changes to their coaching staff and medical department
2:17PM ( 3 weeks ago )
AP Sports - Minor League Baseball
Senate passes $36.5B disaster aid bill; Trump signature next
The Senate has passed a $36.5 billion emergency aid measure to refill disaster accounts
7:57PM ( 4 minutes ago )
The Latest: Clayton Kershaw gets early standing ovation
Clayton Kershaw is getting a standing ovation and he hasn't thrown his first World Series pitch yet
7:29PM ( 32 minutes ago )
Trump crowdsources GOP senators on choice for Fed chair
President Donald Trump has turned to Republican senators for advice as he nears a decision on naming a new head of the Federal Reserve, the most critical personnel choice affecting the economy that he'll make in his presidency
7:23PM ( 38 minutes ago )
US suspects Niger villager betrayed Army troops
The U.S. military believes someone in a Niger village may have tipped off attackers to the presence of U.S. commandoes and Nigerien forces in the area, setting in motion the ambush that killed four Americans
7:17PM ( 45 minutes ago )
Former production assistant alleges Weinstein sexual assault
A former production assistant has come forward alleging that Harvey Weinstein sexually assaulted her after her repeated refusals.
7:09PM ( 52 minutes ago )