Red Sox notes: Hill sets short-term goals

Red Sox notes: Hill sets short-term goals
September 1, 2012, 2:53 am

OAKLAND -- Rich Hill thought the worst was over when he underwent Tommy John surgery last summer, then needed a full 10 months to return to the mound.

What Hill didn't know, of course, is that there would be another injury -- one far more minor -- that would sideline him for the better half of this season. He experienced soreness in his left forearm in the second week of June and it's taken him almost three months to return to the great big leagues.

"With all the work you put in in the off-season and all the work that goes into coming back,'' said Hill, "and having a setback like I had, it's frustrating. You see how far you've come back. It's just part of the game, I guess, so you just continue on.''

After having his comeback from Tommy John surgery interrupted, Hill is intent on making the most of the final month of the 2012 season.

"No doubt about it,'' he said. "Going out there and pitching the way I want to go out there and pitch, taking that same mindset out to the mound, and having the ball come out of your hand the way I want it to consistently -- those are all things I'm looking forward to.''

Hill is eligible for free agency after this season and would like to remain with the Red Sox. But it's too early, he said, to think about the future.

"Obviously, coming back is something that would be great,'' he said. "But that's not the focus right now. For me, I look forward to tomorrow and the day after that. It's a one-day-at-a-time process.''

For now, Hill would settle for getting through an entire season healthy. The last time that happened was 2010, and that came only after he underwent shoulder surgery the previous year.

If he can remain healthy, Hill would like to follow in the path of a number of veteran lefty relievers -- Darren Oliver, Arthur Rhodes, Jesse Orosco and others -- who have pitched into their 40s.

"I want to pitch for a long time,'' he said. "That would be great.''

A growing chrous of people in baseball are on record as recommending a change to the roster expansion rules in place.

Under the current rule, teams can add as many as 15 players after Sept. 1, meaning, theoretically, a team could have every one of its players on the 40-man roster available for September games.

Many don't like the fact that the rules change for the final month of the season after another set of rules were in place for the first five.

Others don't like the built-in inequity of the situation, with some teams having 28 or 29 players available for September games and others with 35 or 36.

"I totally dislike it,'' said Bobby Valentine of the current set-up. "You play the entire season to build a competitive advantage between your team and the competition and then it's thrown out the window in the last month of the season.''

Some have suggested a taxi-squad, where teams in September could operate with a 40-man team, but could only dress 25 for each game.

"A taxi squad or a rotation roster would be (the same problem),'' said Valentine. "You could have five lefthanded pitchers and always have three of them available. I don't think it's the right thing to do.''

Valentine has proposed the rule be enacted in reverse, with teams permitted to carry more players in the first month of the season rather than the last. That way, managers would have extra players early as players build up arm strength and endurance and get ready for the rigors of the season

"This concept is a very old concept,'' he said, "and it should be revised.''

Dustin Pedroia extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a first inning single.

That gave Pedroia 10 hitting streaks of 11 or more games since coming to the big leagues in 2006. Since 1990, only Nomar Garciaparra, with 19, had more than Pedroia among Red Sox players.