Hill Hoping to Get Back to Chicago

DAYTONA BEACH — Rich Hill, who won 11 games for the Chicago Cubs in 2007 only to find himself pitching in rookie league games a year later, recently made his first start with Class-High A Daytona in an attempt to gain control – and confidence.

Hill was removed from the Chicago starting rotation this season after five starts and was demoted to Class AAA Iowa, where his struggles only continued. The Cubs then sent Hill to Mesa, Ariz., and the Arizona Rookie League, where he made three starts.

All the while, Hill's parent club is making a World Series run and has had a strong pitching rotation most all season, only to gain another arm recently in Rich Harden.

For his part, Hill is looking to gain some poise from his experience in the minors so that he can rejoin the Cubs in Chicago some time in the near future.

"I just want to get back in a rhythm and get back into game action," said Hill. "I'm just trying to bounce back from this."

Hill experienced back spasms earlier this season, and that put a strain on his location and – not long after – his psyche.

Hill says now that he's done some rehab and stretching exercises that he's back where he needs to be – at least physically.

But once his mechanics were affected, Hill's anxiety on the mound started quickening up his delivery, thus making his control shaky, he said.

"I think now it's about building my confidence back up," said Hill. "That's a big part of it. The back issues were hindering (me) in changing my mechanics. But now I'm trying to take steps and go out there and compete."

In his first start with Daytona on Friday, Hill struggled in the fifth inning. He allowed six runs (five earned) total on six hits and walked three, including the final two batters he faced.

Pitch count could have been a factor. In his previous two starts (in Arizona), Hill had pitch counts of 55 and 65, respectively. In Daytona, his pitch count jumped to 85.

"I had a big jump in my pitch count in this start, and I could feel the fatigue setting in (around) the fifth inning," Hill admitted.

Hill expects to get at least one or possibly two more starts in Daytona and is aiming at consistency. He says he's not setting any big goals, though. For now, he's just trying to slow things down and regain his command.

"Not so much numbers goals, but goals of going out there and consistently throwing every pitch the way I can throw," said Hill. "Letting go of each pitch the way you want to let go of it."

When asked about a timetable to be back in Chicago, Hill said: "tomorrow would be nice."

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