The Los Angeles Dodgers were cautious with their handling of Rich Hill as he worked to recover from a strained flexor tendon in his forearm, yet his return from the 60-day injured list Thursday night did not last so much as one inning.
Hill struck out the first two batters faced before losing command and failing to retire any of the next four despite the Baltimore Orioles never putting the ball in play. All the while his facial expressions and body language suggested there was some discomfort.
Hill was checked on by Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and a trainer after his second hit batter of the inning loaded the bases. He remained in the game but was promptly removed after issuing a walk that gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead.
It was reported shortly after that Hill was experiencing discomfort in his left knee and was due to have it examined. According to David Vassegh of AM 570 L.A. Sports, Hill sustained an MCL strain:
Rich Hill strained same MCL in left knee he did in spring training.
— David Vassegh (@THEREAL_DV) September 13, 2019
Hill’s previous MCL strain in the same knee occurred late in Spring Training. It prevented him from making an Opening Day start in place of Clayton Kershaw and resulted in Hill beginning the season on the 10-day injured list — officially with a left knee sprain.
The injury prevented the veteran lefty from making his season debut until April 28. Including the one-inning start that saw Hill removed early because of the forearm issue, he went 4-1 with a 2.55 ERA in 10 outings.
Hill’s latest knee trouble figures to have some impact on the Dodgers’ plans moving forward. He was expected to build up through four starts this month and go into the postseason as the final member of the rotation.
While Hill has endured an array of injuries throughout his career, the MCL issue and forearm strain both marked firsts for him.