Hill Trying to Find his Rhythm

DES MOINES – Rich Hill's return from the disabled list raised his spirits -- and the Triple-A Iowa Cubs' attendance numbers here on Friday. Cubs General Manager Jim Hendry joined a season-high crowd of 10,377 that came out for Hill's first start since May 16.

Hill, who went on the seven-day disabled list on May 17 with back spasms, gave up a three-run home run, struck out five batters and walked three in three innings of work. He threw 66 pitches – 45 for strikes.

"It was exciting to get back out there, you know, and just compete and get the feeling back of pitching and getting in game mode," Hill said. "The good thing is my back feels good; I feel healthy. [The start] didn't go as well as I wanted to, but ... I thought I threw well."

Memphis Redbirds third baseman David Freese soured Hill's outing in the third inning, looping a home run just inside the right-field foul pole.

Iowa rallied with 10 runs in the next five innings to win the game, 10-3.

Hill walked the first batter of the game on four pitches. He followed with a strikeout and then walked the next hitter on four pitches.

"The first inning he probably tried too hard," said Iowa pitching coach Mike Mason. "And just like he's been all year, he was trying to get a rhythm. He was in and out of it tonight, but he kind of gets caught up in trying too hard, and then he backs off a little bit. It's just a matter of him going out there and feeling comfortable."

Hill said his pitches were "jumpy."

"It came out live. It was live," he said. "It was exciting to have that. Sometimes, it's tough to control that when it's jumping out, and I'm just trying to get back into a rhythm. That's the main goal down here is to get back into a rhythm, and [to] just feel like you get into some sort of flow of a game.

"For me, I was a little jumpy and [I was] getting out front. Just slowing things down is the next step."

Hill said this is the first time he has "had any problems with anything" physically. He said he is excited about his next start because he feels healthy.

Hill was sent down from Chicago on May 3 after making five starts. He issued 18 walks in 19 2/3 innings and built a 4.12 ERA.

He has since made four starts for Iowa, logging 16 1/3 innings. In the minors, Hill has given up eight earned runs off 15 hits and 11 walks for a 4.41 ERA.

"The positive thing is he was out there and his stuff was good and he was healthy," Mason said. "The drawback is that he is on a limited pitch count. As it gets higher and he gets more innings, it's only going to get better."

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