FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Reliever Rich Hill has thrown two live batting practice sessions already, with a third one scheduled for Wednesday and is satisfied with his progress as he continues to rehab from Tommy John surgery last June.
"Everything felt like one piece going to the plate, all together,'' said Hill of his last session. "Arm, body, mechanically . . . so it was good.''
Hill mixed in his changeup and curve with his fastball over 25 pitches.
As part of his rehab, one the decisions Hill has made is to stay with the low three-quarter delivery. It's not quite sidearm, but the angle is such that it's still a challenge for lefthanded hitters attempting to pick up his delivery.
Hill is unsure whether he'll get into an exhibition game -- either major league or minor league -- before the Red Sox break camp on April 2.
"Obviously, that would be another step,'' he said. "I don't know if it would be a game on the back field or a regular spring training game. But everything feels good and to be able to get into a game would be one of those stepping stones.''
He has set the beginning of May as a goal for his return to the big leagues.
Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
TE Martellus Bennett (ankle)
RB Brandon Bolden (knee)
LB Jamie Collins (hip)
WR Julian Edelman (foot)
DL Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
LB Shea McClellin (concussion)
WR Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
DL Vincent Valentine (back)
DID NOT PARTICIPATE
T Marcus Gilbert (ankle)
DE Cameron Heyward (hamstring)
QB Ben Roethlisberger (left knee)
S Shamarko Thomas (groin)
C Cody Wallace (knee)
WR Markus Wheaton (shoulder)
RB DeAngelo Williams (knee)
S Robert Golden (foot)
S Michael Mitchell (knee)
LB Ryan Shazier (knee)
BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins will have plenty of proud history on display for tonight’s home opener when Bobby Orr and Milt Schmidt drop the ceremonial first puck at TD Garden prior to the game against the New Jersey Devils.
Orr is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his first NHL game, and the amazing Schmidt is there for the 80th anniversary of his rookie NHL season, and it will be up to the current crop of B’s players afterward to play up to the standards of those two Hall of Fame legends. That was a difficult challenge for the Black and Gold last season as they struggled to a 17-18-6 record on home ice and experienced some of their worst regular-season efforts in front of the paying home customers.
When placed side-by-side with a road record (25-13-3), where only the Sharks and Capitals had more victories on the road last season, it was clear the B’s had some strange motivational issues at the Garden. Whether it was leadership, maturity or the coach to blame for their home malaise, the Bruins are looking to reverse that trend this season after an encouraging 2-1 start on the first three-game road trip of the season.
In fact, Brad Marchand didn’t even want to entertain thoughts about last year’s home ice funk.
“Last year has nothing to do with this year. We’ve got a lot of new guys and a lot of new faces, and we’re looking to have a big start at home and have a big year. We want to try and start that tonight,” said Brad Marchand. “We don’t have to get anxious and too excited. We play a good road game and if we play the same way at home as we do on the road then hopefully we’ll be okay.”
The home ice anxiousness was clear on many occasions for the Bruins whether it was getting blown out at the Winter Classic, getting smoked in Milan Lucic’s return to the Garden with the LA Kings or epically blowing the final game of the season vs. Ottawa with the playoffs on the line. It will be interesting to see what a big personality and hardened, vocal leader David Backes can bring to combat some of the home ice skittishness of last season.
One other thing the Bruins will be looking to change: allowing the other team to score the first goal, as they’ve done in all three games to start this season. It could perhaps be excused with the B’s playing the polite visitor at the emotional home openers for the Blue Jackets and the Maple Leafs last week, but now it’s their turn to jack up the emotional level and make TD Garden a much more difficult place to play than it was for the majority of last season.