Free-agent lefty Rich Hill won’t be ready for the start of the 2020 season after undergoing primary revision surgery, reports WEEI’s Rob Bradford. It’s unlikely that the 39-year-old would be ready to return until June, and he could be delayed into July as well.
A source familiar with the procedure tells MLBTR that the operation is similar to the Tommy John alternative that right-hander Seth Maness underwent a few years go. Primary revision (also sometimes referred to as “primary repair”) is a less-intrusive repair of a tear in a player’s ulnar collateral ligament and comes with a shorter rehab period. However, not all UCL tears make for good candidates to undergo the operation. The procedure is dependent on the general health of the tissue as well as the placement and extent of the tear. Hill, who actually pitched through the injury for some of the 2019 season, was deemed a good candidate for the lesser-known procedure.
Although he’ll turn 40 next March, Hill has voiced a desire to continue pitching as long as he can and has been vocal about his desire to return to the Dodgers. He’s also expressed some interest in pitching with the Red Sox again, as a Boston native whose family still resides in the area. Now, rather than opening the season in a rotation, Hill could instead be a midseason reinforcement. Whether he’ll sign a contract this winter and attempt to rehab with his 2020 team or wait until he’s able to demonstrate his health for clubs next summer isn’t known.
Knee issues and a forearm strain wiped out a fair bit of Hill’s 2019 season, limiting him to 58 2/3 innings in what was the final season of a three-year, $48MM contract with the Dodgers. But Hill was excellent when healthy enough to take the ball, pitching to a 2.45 ERA with a 72-to-18 K/BB ratio and a 49.6 percent ground-ball rate in that time. Hill missed time in each of the three seasons of that contract with L.A. but did log a 3.30 earned run average with nearly 11.0 K/9 in a total of 327 regular-season innings (plus another 37 innings of 2.43 ERA ball).
Since resurrecting his career with the Red Sox late in the 2015 season, Hill has pitched 466 1/3 innings with a 2.91 ERA, 10.7 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 and 1.0 HR/9.