Los Angeles Times
Thankful Hill gets chance to beat Red Sox
Rich Hill’s Boston roots run deep. He was born in the city and raised in Milton, Mass., a nearby suburb. He attended the World Series parade with his father when the Red Sox broke their curse in 2004 after completing his season as a Chicago Cubs minor leaguer. He later had two stints with the Red Sox organization, pitched parts of four seasons with them, and credits the franchise for sustaining his career.
On Saturday, Hill will be on the mound at Dodger Stadium opposite his childhood team in Game 4 of the World Series.
“We wouldn’t be in this situation if it wasn’t for the opportunity the Red Sox gave us,” Hill said.
Hill first joined the Red Sox in June 2010 after opting out of his minor league contract with the St. Louis Cardinals and reported to triple-A Pawtucket. Three months later, he was back in the majors, pitching for the team he grew up rooting for.
Five years later, after pitching in an independent league, the Red Sox gave him another chance.
Hill was a different pitcher then, one who relied more on his curveball, and gave up five runs in 29 innings across four starts. He had 10 strikeouts in three of the four outings. That winter the Oakland Athletics signed him. He was shipped to Los Angeles at the 2016 trade deadline and signed a three-year, $48-million deal with the Dodgers before the 2017 season.
“Being prepared for the opportunity instead of waiting for the opportunity and then not being prepared for it,” Hill said of his four starts with the Red Sox. “So it was something that I worked really hard at home when I was not with the team for a month or so, and put myself in that position because I was prepared.”
The Dodgers’ starting lineup these days depends on if the opposing pitcher is right- or left-handed. The objective is to optimize as many matchups as possible, a formula that led them to the World Series.
As a result, Yasmani Grandal is, theoretically, a valuable piece. Switch-hitting catchers with pop are uncommon. Grandal seized the everyday job during the regular season and belted 24 home runs. But with Grandal’s defensive gaffes and offensive troubles in the postseason, he lost his job to Austin Barnes after Game 3 of the National League Championship Series.
Six games later, Grandal was back in the starting lineup Friday for Game 3 of the World Series. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts explained there were two primary reasons for Grandal’s presence: the Red Sox started a right-handed pitcher — Rick Porcello — and he boasts a stronger arm than Barnes to counter Boston’s aggressiveness on the base paths.
“And I just feel that the last three or four games,” Roberts said, “for Yasmani to not start, to give him a little rest, I think he’s in a much better place mentally.”
Boston pitching coach Dana LeVangie said he saw the Dodgers’ Manny Machado relaying signs to his teammates during Game 2, according to Bleacher Report.
LeVangie caught Machado’s “exaggerated” motions, which he said included grabbing the crotch of his pants, but delayed notifying Red Sox pitcher David Price. The Dodgers took a 2-1 lead after the sequence.
“It’s been going on since the game came to be,” Roberts said before Game 3. “There’s a gamesmanship part of it, where you’re trying to get an advantage and coaches, players, do that every day.”
Agent as GM?
Tony Clark, the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Assn., said he has heard from players concerned over the possibility that the New York Mets might hire agent Brodie Van Wagenen as their head of baseball operations.
“I won’t tell you how many calls or how many texts I have gotten,” Clark said Friday before Game 3. “I will simply suggest to you that our membership is paying attention.
“They understand the opportunities that exist for representatives to make the decisions that they are going to make. … To the extent that possibility exists, I would be confident in suggesting that the understanding and appreciation for confidential information remains so.”