SAN DIEGO – The problematic blister – now callous – on the middle finger of Rich Hill’s pitching hand will never be completely out of mind. But something else will step to the forefront when he takes the mound for another rehab start on Tuesday.
“That’s kind of a little bit of the message,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said of his discussion with Hill after the left-hander’s most recent bullpen session Saturday afternoon. “If you’re one start away from getting a major-league start, you’ve got to get guys out. I was pretty clear.”
Hill didn’t get many outs in his rehab start for Class-A Rancho Cucamonga on Thursday. He retired just two batters before being pulled after throwing 29 pitches. Hill had to resort to throwing in the bullpen instead to reach his target of 60 pitches.
“He’s scheduled for five-and-75 on Tuesday,” Roberts said with a smile. “I encouraged him to get through the five (innings) and not finish up in the ‘pen.”
Hill would like that as well. Being pulled in the first inning of a Class-A game was disappointing to say the least.
“Oh yeah, of course,” Hill said. “You go out there to throw 60 pitches in four innings and throw 30 in two-thirds of an inning … I know, ‘Ah, it’s a rehab start’ but for me you want to go out there and compete and do well. Of course, that eats at you.”
Nonetheless, Hill has taken a positive feeling from all of his recent throwing sessions. The pad on his middle finger has toughened up thanks to a regimen of Stan’s Rodeo Rub (an ointment created by former Dodgers trainer Stan Johnston) and wearing a bandage during some throwing sessions.
“The finger is holding up great,” Hill said after Saturday’s bullpen session. “I think it’s just getting repetitions and pitching. It’s been ‘How much is too much? How much is too little?’ I think it’s great now. The finger has been great. The results weren’t what I was looking for. But the quantity of pitches and…