Posted on April 18, 2017, by Bryan Zarpentine
Los Angeles Dodgers starter Rich Hill lasted just three innings in his return from the DL before the blister issues that sent him to the DL just one start into the 2017 season resurfaced. Hill was pulled after three innings in his start Sunday against the Diamondbacks because a blister on his middle finger starter to appear. Now Hill is back on the DL and the Dodgers are at a loss as to why this issue continues to pop up with their talented lefty.
“Rich, our medical staff, we’re open to anything,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters on Monday. “I’m at a loss for words. We’re baffled, as well.”
Hill took measures over the winter to help make the skin on his fingers more resistant to blisters. When he went to the DL earlier this month, he also pledged to throw less in between starts in hopes that would reduce his risk of developing blisters. However, nothing he has tried appears to be working. In fact, the issue only appears to be getting worse, as Hill has thrown just eight innings this season after signing a three-year, $48 million contract with the Dodgers over the winter.
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“Put it this way — he was shut down all winter and it came back,” Roberts said, frustrated at the situation. “We had no problem with it.Then in his first start, it showed its ugly face again. You could argue that resting it isn’t the solution. He had as much rest as he could. There wasn’t a sign of it until he made his first start. That third finger is really important for that breaking ball. That’s just the way it is.”
The Dodgers are willing to try anything that has a chance of working to solve Hill’s blister issues. Hill played catch on Monday with a bandage on his blister, as he hopes to keep his shoulder loose while on the DL. He is scheduled to play catch again on Tuesday without the bandage. The club is also looking into various ointments for blisters and may even consider Hill changing the grip on his curveball, even though the pitch has been a huge part of his success during his career.
“We’re getting a lot of things in our inbox on suggestions,” Roberts said. “The training staff is on it. Just waiting for the right result. They’re trying everything.”
It’s unclear how much time Hill will miss during this stint on the DL. The Dodgers want to avoid him returning to the mound before the blister on his finger rips and has a chance to heal. However, that could force him to miss weeks, if not months. Hill missed two months last season with a blister issue, although he did pitch effectively down the stretch once he returned.
Hill has volunteered to pitch out of the bullpen when he returns, giving the Dodgers another option. Given Hill’s salary, using him in short stints out of the bullpen isn’t ideal, although it may be a better option than having him sit on the sidelines for an extended period of time.
With Hill back on the DL, Alex Wood will return to the Los Angeles rotation. Wood struggled in a start against the Cubs last week, although he’s been great coming out of the bullpen, throwing 5.1 hitless innings as a reliever over two outings. It’s possible that Wood ends up staying in the rotation for an extended period of time; at the moment, the Dodgers are at a loss as to how to cure Hill of his blister issues. Until they come up with a potential solution, there appears to be no clear timeline for his return.