Left-hander Rich Hill reported to spring training Wednesday feeling what must have been an incomparable kind of emotional pain. Hill told reporters at Boston Red Sox camp that his infant son Brooks Hill, who was born with "multiple health issues" the day after Christmas, had died.
Via ESPN Boston, Hill was quoted as saying:
"He taught us a lot of things, and unfortunately things didn't work out," Hill said.
Hill's wife and 2 1/2-year-old son are with him in Florida to support Hill in his attempt to continue his livelihood. Hill called his wife, Caitlin, "extremely strong." Former high-school sweethearts, they were married in 2007.
Hill, who turns 34 next week, has a career 4.74 ERA in 465 2/3 innings since breaking in with the Cubs in 2005. This is his second stint with the Red Sox after posting a 6.38 ERA with 51 strikeouts in 38 2/3 innings with the Indians a season ago. Hill also pitched with Boston from 2010-2012, posting the best numbers of his career, really, in short relief.
He expressed gratitude toward the staff at Massachusetts General Hospital and said the Red Sox "have been tremendous." Hill said he is glad to be back around his teammates and baseball after such a devastating period in his life.
"Excited to be here, to be playing baseball again and get back into the normalcy of my profession and to be around a great group of guys and to just take that next step," he said.
Considering he is three weeks behind the other pitchers (at least), Hill's chances of making the squad out of camp seem remote. But there's always Pawtucket, the team's Class AAA squad. And major league teams are always looking for pitchers after April 1.
After establishing himself in the Cubs rotation in 2007, Hill had shoulder surgery in 2009 and Tommy John elbow ligament replacement surgery in 2011. He's something of a survivor in the majors. He's left-handed and has a big curveball. As long as he's got the will, and is healthy, he's got a chance to pitch in the majors. It just will be difficult to do while also grieving. Being in familiar territory with the Red Sox might help.
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