When Rich Hill was removed from his June 19 start after pitching just one inning, it came with initial concern the Los Angeles Dodgers potentially would head into the postseason without one of their key members in the rotation.
But rather than serve as an indication of a damaged UCL, Hill’s forearm discomfort was a result of a strained flexor tendon. He was going to be shut down for multiple weeks but voiced confidence in pitching again this season.
That came to fruition on Thursday, when Hill was activated off the 60-day injured list. However, his return was short-lived, as Hill exited with two outs in the first inning. He was later diagnosed with a strained MCL in his left knee — the same injury suffered in Spring Training.
Although Hill is poised to undergo an MRI on Monday, he threw from flat ground at Citi Field. According to Jorge Castillo of the L.A. Times, the 39-year-old is working to find a solution that would allow for him to continue pitching:
Hill said he’ll still undergo the MRI exam Monday. If it shows a similar or less severe injury than the one he had in spring training, he wants to see if he can make it work with the mechanical adjustment.
— Jorge Castillo (@jorgecastillo) September 14, 2019
In the hours after knee trouble forced him to an early exit, Hill said the pain and discomfort was not at the same level when compared to the injury he sustained in the spring. Despite the encouraging signs, the Dodgers will base any plan of action on the MRI results.
The injury earlier this year sidelined Hill for four weeks. He also complained of discomfort with wearing a knee brace. Such an absence this time around would all but end his season. If he is to only require around one week for the recovery process, it would remain plausible to contribute in October.
When there were still questions over whether or not Hill would have time to build up as a starter, he and the Dodgers expressed a willingness to shift to a role out of the bullpen. Once it became clear Hill was set to return this week, a plan to have him make four starts in September went into effect.