Q&A with Shawn Hill

Before undergoing Tommy John Surgery, Shawn Hill was regarded as one of the elite prospects in the organization. Now, after sitting out the entire 2005 season, the righty hurler is on the comeback trail. We recently sat down with Shawn for an exclusive interview. (Free Preview!)

(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)

CapitolDugout.com: First of all Shawn, how is your recovery from Tommy John surgery going?

Shawn Hill: My recovery has gone much slower than I hoped for, but the main reason for that was that I pushed myself a little too quickly, and in the process irritated the bone that was drilled for the surgery. I should be good to go for spring training at least, but there's no telling how rusty I will be when it comes to my feel for pitching.

CapitolDugout.com: If you would, could you please briefly describe your repertoire for our readers?

Shawn Hill: I'm a fastball, change-up, curveball pitcher. When healthy, my fastball is right around 90-91 MPH all game long, and my fastball is what I throw about 85% of the time. Both my curveball and change-up are around 75-79 MPH.

CapitolDugout.com: If you had to compare yourself in style to an MLB pitcher, who would it be?

Shawn Hill: For a couple years, I've thought Derek Lowe is someone comparable, mainly due to the sink on his fastball, but my fastball is more of a heavy late breaking sinker, as opposed to Lowe who has a bigger sink. As far as pitching goes though, I prefer to look at Pedro when it comes to mentality, for two reasons, one being that he likes to play serious mind games with hitters with regards to pitch selection, and mainly the way he pitches inside and enjoys doing so.

CapitolDugout.com: What type of the long term goals do you have for your professional career?

Shawn Hill: Honestly, long term I'm not sure. I would have to say that I just plan to play as long as my body will let me. I like to think more year to year with goals though, and this year my hopes are to get back to 100% first of all, and secondly make my way back into the big leagues once my arm has caught up.

CapitolDugout.com: Do you feel that the surgery may affect what type of pitcher you'll be long term as to oppose to what you were before the injury?

Shawn Hill: Well, before the surgery, I ended up becoming a finesse pitcher for a majority of the season because my arm would break down on me by the all-star break at least. I'm hoping now that my fastball will stay with me, and that I might gain a mile per hour or two on my fastball and become more of a power pitcher. The main thing that I'm concerned about is my control and movement, just hoping that I don't lose anything from either of those characteristics.

CapitolDugout.com: Shawn, could you take us through how you first discovered your injury? Was it a gradual type of thing or did you know right away that there was something wrong?

Shawn Hill: It was very gradual. I actually tore it first in January of 1999 and, every year since then, I've torn away at it slightly until I finally couldn't take the pain that I was going through every start. Dr. Andrews did the surgery and said I was hanging on by a thread, so it was sorely needed.

CapitolDugout.com: Describe your approach on the mound. Would you call yourself more of an intellectual pitcher or do you work more off emotion?

Shawn Hill: I'm definitely an intellectual on the mound. I try to show zero emotion, good or bad, so as to not let the other team use my negative emotions at times to fuel their own emotions. I like to study hitters as I see them as well, and pick apart everything they do to give myself an advantage. So, I often end up angry at myself for throwing the wrong pitch at times because I feel I should know better after seeing the hitter enough.

CapitolDugout.com: What would you say is your biggest strength as a pitcher?

Shawn Hill: My mental toughness for one, but physically it would have to be my control of my pitches. Another strength is also my movement on my fastball which is why I throw it so often.

CapitolDugout.com: What are some of the most important improvements you've made as a professional?

Shawn Hill: Everything! I came into pro ball as a pitcher, but I had only been pitching for a couple months to get ready for the draft. I was very raw and only knew a fair bit about my mechanics thanks to a coach back home. The mental part of pro ball I would say is the biggest challenge, only because I've seen many talented players get released because they weren't able to figure themselves out as players, and how to handle everything that comes with pro ball as well.

CapitolDugout.com: What are some of the most improvements that you feel you will have to make in the future?

Shawn Hill: The biggest thing I need to work on is throwing my off speed pitches for strikes more consistently. I haven't done that for the majority of my career only because I worked on commanding my fastball. At the higher levels though, I'm pretty sure I will need to utilize my off speed stuff more often and be more consistent with the quality of them.

CapitolDugout.com: Was there ever any doubt in your mind about what the surgery would do to your pitching career?

Shawn Hill: A little bit, of course, only because there's always a chance you don't recover at all from it. But, I was getting the surgery done by the best surgeon, and was informed early and often of the recovery process and percentages. So, as long as I did my work I would be ok, barring some uncommon problem. Therefore, I knew the recovery was in my hands once the rehab started.

CapitolDugout.com: Does having a setback in your career make the possibility of becoming a mainstay in the big leagues even more satisfying?

Shawn Hill: Definitely. The thing that is satisfying for me already is knowing that I made it to the big leagues at less than 100%. I had been fighting the arm for 5+ years, and still pitched well enough to get up there. So, I'm hoping now that the arm should be healthy as long as I do my work, that I'll be able to get back to the big leagues and keep myself there for as long as possible.

CapitolDugout.com: If you are pitching to Barry Bonds, how do you go after him?

Shawn Hill: That is a question that probably only Barry could answer correctly, but my answer would have to be the same way I go after every big hitter I face. I would pound fastballs mostly and hopefully get a read on his takes and/or swings. And that's assuming there's no one on base. If there's anyone on, he's probably not getting a whole lot of anything to hit.

Capitol Dugout Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\n(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: First of all Shawn, how is your recovery from Tommy John surgery going?

\r\nShawn Hill: My recovery has gone much slower than I hoped for, but the main reason for that was that I pushed myself a little too quickly, and in the process irritated the bone that was drilled for the surgery. I should be good to go for spring training at least, but there's no telling how rusty I will be when it comes to my feel for pitching. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: If you would, could you please briefly describe your repertoire for our readers?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: I'm a fastball, change-up, curveball pitcher. When healthy, my fastball is right around 90-91 MPH all game long, and my fastball is what I throw about 85% of the time. Both my curveball and change-up are around 75-79 MPH. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: If you had to compare yourself in style to an MLB pitcher, who would it be?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: For a couple years, I've thought Derek Lowe is someone comparable, mainly due to the sink on his fastball, but my fastball is more of a heavy late breaking sinker, as opposed to Lowe who has a bigger sink. As far as pitching goes though, I prefer to look at Pedro when it comes to mentality, for two reasons, one being that he likes to play serious mind games with hitters with regards to pitch selection, and mainly the way he pitches inside and enjoys doing so. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What type of the long term goals do you have for your professional career? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Honestly, long term I'm not sure. I would have to say that I just plan to play as long as my body will let me. I like to think more year to year with goals though, and this year my hopes are to get back to 100% first of all, and secondly make my way back into the big leagues once my arm has caught up. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Do you feel that the surgery may affect what type of pitcher you'll be long term as to oppose to what you were before the injury?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Well, before the surgery, I ended up becoming a finesse pitcher for a majority of the season because my arm would break down on me by the all-star break at least. I'm hoping now that my fastball will stay with me, and that I might gain a mile per hour or two on my fastball and become more of a power pitcher. The main thing that I'm concerned about is my control and movement, just hoping that I don't lose anything from either of those characteristics. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Shawn, could you take us through how you first discovered your injury? Was it a gradual type of thing or did you know right away that there was something wrong? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: It was very gradual. I actually tore it first in January of 1999 and, every year since then, I've torn away at it slightly until I finally couldn't take the pain that I was going through every start. Dr. Andrews did the surgery and said I was hanging on by a thread, so it was sorely needed. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Describe your approach on the mound. Would you call yourself more of an intellectual pitcher or do you work more off emotion? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: I'm definitely an intellectual on the mound. I try to show zero emotion, good or bad, so as to not let the other team use my negative emotions at times to fuel their own emotions. I like to study hitters as I see them as well, and pick apart everything they do to give myself an advantage. So, I often end up angry at myself for throwing the wrong pitch at times because I feel I should know better after seeing the hitter enough. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What would you say is your biggest strength as a pitcher? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: My mental toughness for one, but physically it would have to be my control of my pitches. Another strength is also my movement on my fastball which is why I throw it so often. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What are some of the most important improvements you've made as a professional? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Everything! I came into pro ball as a pitcher, but I had only been pitching for a couple months to get ready for the draft. I was very raw and only knew a fair bit about my mechanics thanks to a coach back home. The mental part of pro ball I would say is the biggest challenge, only because I've seen many talented players get released because they weren't able to figure themselves out as players, and how to handle everything that comes with pro ball as well. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What are some of the most improvements that you feel you will have to make in the future? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: The biggest thing I need to work on is throwing my off speed pitches for strikes more consistently. I haven't done that for the majority of my career only because I worked on commanding my fastball. At the higher levels though, I'm pretty sure I will need to utilize my off speed stuff more often and be more consistent with the quality of them. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Was there ever any doubt in your mind about what the surgery would do to your pitching career? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: A little bit, of course, only because there's always a chance you don't recover at all from it. But, I was getting the surgery done by the best surgeon, and was informed early and often of the recovery process and percentages. So, as long as I did my work I would be ok, barring some uncommon problem. Therefore, I knew the recovery was in my hands once the rehab started. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Does having a setback in your career make the possibility of becoming a mainstay in the big leagues even more satisfying? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Definitely. The thing that is satisfying for me already is knowing that I made it to the big leagues at less than 100%. I had been fighting the arm for 5+ years, and still pitched well enough to get up there. So, I'm hoping now that the arm should be healthy as long as I do my work, that I'll be able to get back to the big leagues and keep myself there for as long as possible. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: If you are pitching to Barry Bonds, how do you go after him?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: That is a question that probably only Barry could answer correctly, but my answer would have to be the same way I go after every big hitter I face. I would pound fastballs mostly and hopefully get a read on his takes and/or swings. And that's assuming there's no one on base. If there's anyone on, he's probably not getting a whole lot of anything to hit.","mobileBody":" \r\n(FREE PREVIEW OF PREMIUM CONTENT)\r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: First of all Shawn, how is your recovery from Tommy John surgery going?

\r\nShawn Hill: My recovery has gone much slower than I hoped for, but the main reason for that was that I pushed myself a little too quickly, and in the process irritated the bone that was drilled for the surgery. I should be good to go for spring training at least, but there's no telling how rusty I will be when it comes to my feel for pitching. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: If you would, could you please briefly describe your repertoire for our readers?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: I'm a fastball, change-up, curveball pitcher. When healthy, my fastball is right around 90-91 MPH all game long, and my fastball is what I throw about 85% of the time. Both my curveball and change-up are around 75-79 MPH. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: If you had to compare yourself in style to an MLB pitcher, who would it be?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: For a couple years, I've thought Derek Lowe is someone comparable, mainly due to the sink on his fastball, but my fastball is more of a heavy late breaking sinker, as opposed to Lowe who has a bigger sink. As far as pitching goes though, I prefer to look at Pedro when it comes to mentality, for two reasons, one being that he likes to play serious mind games with hitters with regards to pitch selection, and mainly the way he pitches inside and enjoys doing so. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What type of the long term goals do you have for your professional career? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Honestly, long term I'm not sure. I would have to say that I just plan to play as long as my body will let me. I like to think more year to year with goals though, and this year my hopes are to get back to 100% first of all, and secondly make my way back into the big leagues once my arm has caught up. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Do you feel that the surgery may affect what type of pitcher you'll be long term as to oppose to what you were before the injury?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Well, before the surgery, I ended up becoming a finesse pitcher for a majority of the season because my arm would break down on me by the all-star break at least. I'm hoping now that my fastball will stay with me, and that I might gain a mile per hour or two on my fastball and become more of a power pitcher. The main thing that I'm concerned about is my control and movement, just hoping that I don't lose anything from either of those characteristics. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Shawn, could you take us through how you first discovered your injury? Was it a gradual type of thing or did you know right away that there was something wrong? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: It was very gradual. I actually tore it first in January of 1999 and, every year since then, I've torn away at it slightly until I finally couldn't take the pain that I was going through every start. Dr. Andrews did the surgery and said I was hanging on by a thread, so it was sorely needed. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Describe your approach on the mound. Would you call yourself more of an intellectual pitcher or do you work more off emotion? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: I'm definitely an intellectual on the mound. I try to show zero emotion, good or bad, so as to not let the other team use my negative emotions at times to fuel their own emotions. I like to study hitters as I see them as well, and pick apart everything they do to give myself an advantage. So, I often end up angry at myself for throwing the wrong pitch at times because I feel I should know better after seeing the hitter enough. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What would you say is your biggest strength as a pitcher? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: My mental toughness for one, but physically it would have to be my control of my pitches. Another strength is also my movement on my fastball which is why I throw it so often. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What are some of the most important improvements you've made as a professional? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Everything! I came into pro ball as a pitcher, but I had only been pitching for a couple months to get ready for the draft. I was very raw and only knew a fair bit about my mechanics thanks to a coach back home. The mental part of pro ball I would say is the biggest challenge, only because I've seen many talented players get released because they weren't able to figure themselves out as players, and how to handle everything that comes with pro ball as well. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: What are some of the most improvements that you feel you will have to make in the future? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: The biggest thing I need to work on is throwing my off speed pitches for strikes more consistently. I haven't done that for the majority of my career only because I worked on commanding my fastball. At the higher levels though, I'm pretty sure I will need to utilize my off speed stuff more often and be more consistent with the quality of them. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Was there ever any doubt in your mind about what the surgery would do to your pitching career? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: A little bit, of course, only because there's always a chance you don't recover at all from it. But, I was getting the surgery done by the best surgeon, and was informed early and often of the recovery process and percentages. So, as long as I did my work I would be ok, barring some uncommon problem. Therefore, I knew the recovery was in my hands once the rehab started. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: Does having a setback in your career make the possibility of becoming a mainstay in the big leagues even more satisfying? \r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: Definitely. The thing that is satisfying for me already is knowing that I made it to the big leagues at less than 100%. I had been fighting the arm for 5+ years, and still pitched well enough to get up there. So, I'm hoping now that the arm should be healthy as long as I do my work, that I'll be able to get back to the big leagues and keep myself there for as long as possible. \r\n

\r\nCapitolDugout.com: If you are pitching to Barry Bonds, how do you go after him?\r\n

\r\nShawn Hill: That is a question that probably only Barry could answer correctly, but my answer would have to be the same way I go after every big hitter I face. I would pound fastballs mostly and hopefully get a read on his takes and/or swings. And that's assuming there's no one on base. 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