THREE AND OUT WITH RICH HILL
Each week in the newsletter, we will ask three questions to someone affiliated with the Red Sox. With the home opener upcoming, it was a good opportunity to talk to 42-year-old lefty Rich Hill about pitching for his hometown team for the first time in seven years.
Growing up in Milton, you know as much as anyone how special the opener is at Fenway every year. How much do you look forward to running out to the first-base line on Friday during pregame introductions?
Any time you get to be part of an Opening Day at the highest level, it’s an honor. It’s something you don’t take for granted. At my age, you don’t know how many more you have. Just being back home and having my wife and my son be able to go to a lot of games, plus family and extended family, it obviously means a little more for me being from Boston and putting on a Red Sox uniform after growing up a Red Sox fan. When you look at the game and why we’re playing it and why we started to play it, it’s great. I think that’s something I definitely appreciate more and more as I’ve gotten older, and this is going to be special.
You mentioned your 10-year-old son Bryce, who is following in your footsteps by playing in Milton Little League. How cool is it for you to know you will get to some of his games and practices this year?
Being able to go to his games is going to be great and really important. Catching a game before going into Fenway or taking him in for batting practice and to enjoy the time we have. Because, again, it’s fleeting. That’s what I love about what [manager] Alex [Cora] has done here in Boston. We had that in Los Angeles, and Tampa Bay and Minnesota were the same way.
I look back at your first stint with the Red Sox, from 2010-12, and you were dealing with a lot of injuries at that time and just trying to keep your career going. And also before that and after that, you hit roadblocks. Could you have ever imagined being out here at 42 years old, and in the rotation for a team like Boston?
The easy answer is no. But there’s also the determination and work ethic and time and effort that goes into continuing to stay on top of your game as much as possible that has allowed me to still be here. As you’re getting older, you have to combat different kind of issues that you might not have encountered before. Even getting out of bed. Stretching in the morning. Things we didn’t have to do when we were younger.
But now, it’s more just keeping that part of your daily routine. That keeps you pliable and ready to go at this age. The other side of it is I never really planned on doing anything else. I think that’s why I went to the bullpen, then I went to independent ball, and came back as a starter. There was never another option in my mind. Everybody has ability. But you have to have that work ethic and that effort.