Last week, Minnesota Twins offseason acquisition Rich Hill said if the MLB season gets underway in early July, he would be ready.
When Rich Hill, who turned 40 in March, had elbow surgery last October, he was hoping to continue his 15-year MLB career, not end it. At the time of the surgery, Hill was about to become a free agent, and teams (the Minnesota Twins included) knew that signing Hill would be out until at least June with the recovery.
With June just a little over a week away, and Major League Baseball teams still not back in action, the chances of Hill not missing any games improves by the day. Hill’s ability to play from the start of the season would be a huge boost for a pitching rotation that needs all the quality arms it can get.
For Minnesota Twins fans who might not be familiar with Hill, he was a fourth-round pick in the 2002 MLB Draft by the Chicago Cubs and made his MLB debut in 2005. After going 18-17 in his four years in Chicago, Hill moved around the American League over the next 10 seasons.
Hill spent time in Baltimore, Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, and New York. In those 10 seasons, Hill was placed on the DL numerous times, and spent more time in the minors than the majors, despite having a talented arm. This often frustrated Hill.
After opting out of his minor league contact with the Nationals in 2015, Hill signed a contract with the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball a league with no affiliation to the MLB.
Hill only made two starts for the Ducks, striking out 21 batters and allowing no runs in 11 innings of work. This helped Hill gain MLB interest again, and he signed a minor league deal with the Red Sox after his time with the Ducks and would make his first MLB start since 2009. In four starts with Boston in 2015, Hill was 2-1 with a 1.55 ERA, including a complete game shutout.
In the 2015 offseason Hill signed with Oakland, and continued his comeback story going 9-3 with a 2.25 ERA. Hill was traded at the deadline to the Dodgers, where he found most of his career success. In parts of four seasons with LA, Hill was 30-16 with a 3.16 ERA, as well as pitching in 13 playoff games, including three in the World Series.
Although staying healthy has been a challenge for Hill throughout his career, when he has been able to do so recently, he has been one of the better pitchers in the league. Adding a healthy Rich Hill to the Minnesota Twins rotation would be a huge plus, especially in the playoffs, where Hill has experience.
As May is coming to an end and the return of Major League Baseball becoming more and more probable, the Twins might end up getting a steal with the signing of Hill. Hopefully Twins fans will get to see him in action soon.