Q&A with Richard Hill

Left-hander Rich Hill, 24, lead the Daytona Cubs in strikeouts in 2004 with 136 in only 109.1 innings. Inside, the Michigan alum talks about his success, the back-and-forth transition from the starting rotation to the bullpen, and being "on his own."

Q: You struggled with control at certain intervals during the season. What was the biggest contributing factor to that?

A: Well I don't think it was so much a physical thing or even a mechanical thing; it was more of a mental thing. I took a couple of steps in the right direction toward the end. I came on in relief and struck out the side in a game [August 5 vs. St. Lucie] and just kept moving on from there.

Q: You were also shuffled back and forth between the starting rotation and bullpen this year. How was the transition?

A: It's different. It's a different mentality. You just prepare yourself as the game goes along. When you're starting, you know when you're going to pitch obviously and when your day is over. You pretty much have a set routine, whereas coming out of the bullpen, it's a little different.

Q: So what do you see yourself as in the long run? Starter or reliever? You've plugged both holes well and went pretty deep in a couple of games as a starter.

A: I'm not sure. That's not really for me to decide. However they want to use me is fine with me. Whatever way is the quickest way up the ladder I guess. I do think I'll be used as a starter, though.

Q: We touched on the walks earlier, so now lets touch base with the strikeouts. You lead the entire Cubs farm system in strikeouts for most all of the first half of the season. What do you attribute to your success with the strikeout, and how much credit do your coaches deserve?

A: Well as far as the strikeouts go, I just think with the good command and control I've had in the games that I did have high strikeout totals in, my curveball and cutter helped a lot in contributing to my success. The coaches are very supportive. Tom Pratt, the pitching coach, helped me out a lot as far as working through the up's and down's of the season.

Q: We already know a little about your repertoire from all the scouting reports. Tell us a little about your out-pitch, etc.

A: The curveball and cutter as I mentioned, and of course the straight fastball when it's on. I have pretty good command of my fastball. All three are pretty much "strikeout" pitches.

Hill led the Daytona Cubs in strikeouts in 2004. (Photo/Jerry Hale)
Q: What have you had to change since joining the pro-level? You had some success at Michigan in your last two years there. How has your approach differed since being drafted?

A: You know, the only things that have come more finer are the preparation for the games as far as paying attention to the lineups and going out there and noticing the guys that are hot. In college, I just went out and dominated simply because my stuff was better than the guys swinging the bat. Now, it's an adjustment toward making up your own daily program. You're really more on your own now.

Q: Growing up in Boston, who were your favorites as a youngster? Who were your childhood teams?

A: Well I'm a big Celtics and Red Sox fan naturally. Both two teams are easily my favorites, along with the Bruins. It's all about coming from Massachussetts, you know. I'm a big hockey fan. All three of those teams I grew up watching. I was always an Atlanta Braves fan in the 90's. I'm not too much into football, though I have started to get more into it since I went to Michigan. The Michigan-Ohio State thing kind of turned me on to football, you know?

Q: How does your approach vary from facing left-handed hitters and right-handers?

A: The approach doesn't really change from hitter to hitter. It depends more on the tendencies the hitter might have. One difference is that I won't throw a changeup to a left-hander generally. I use my three main pitches to a lefty: fastball, curve and cutter. The same for a right-hander really. So I guess the approach really isn't much different.

Q: How well do you defend your position?

A: I tell you, I'm only average. I've worked on a lot of things to get better in terms of building up speed to get to the ball quicker and attacking the ball more instead of shying away from it and letting the others get to it.

HILL TIDBIT: Hill finished 2004 with a 4-3 record and 6.39 ERA in 56.1 innings at Jackie Robinson Park. On the road, however, he was 3-3 with a 1.53 in 53 innings.

Northsiders Report Top Stories