Jobs Homes Autos For Sale

Emotional Hill demoted to Iowa
By Bruce Miles | Daily Herald Staff

Rich Hill


Mary Beth Nolan | Staff Photographer

 1 of 1 
print story
email story
Published: 5/4/2008 12:03 AM

Send To:





ST. LOUIS -- Rich Hill began his Saturday staring into a computer screen with pitching coach Larry Rothschild.

Although Hill said he found something on the video he thought could help him, it wasn't enough to spare him a trip to Iowa.

A short while after comparing video images of his pitching delivery from this year to last, Hill was summoned to a closed-door meeting with Rothschild and manager Lou Piniella.

It was there he got the news he was being optioned to Class AAA Iowa, with righty Sean Gallagher getting called up from Iowa.

The upshot is that while Hill is in Iowa working on things, Gallagher will move to the bullpen as the long reliever, and veteran right-hander Jon Lieber will go from the pen to the starting rotation, starting with Wednesday's game in Cincinnati.

It was a bitter pill for Hill to swallow, and he had a tough time containing his emotions.

The situation was reminiscent of two years ago, when Hill was sent back to Iowa after a tough start against the White Sox. He came back later in the year and finished strong.

"You take that attitude down there," Hill said. "It's something that's not easy to do, obviously. You go down there, and you work on things that need to be worked on. Take it as, not as a demotion, but you go down there to get better, not to stay down there."

Hill is 1-0 with a 4.12 ERA in 5 starts. Of concern to the Cubs were his 18 walks in 19¿ innings. This came on the heels of a spring training in which he struggled with his command and aggressiveness.

Last year, Hill was 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA and 63 walks in 195 innings. The Cubs thought he was "over the hump" in his career.

"He'll go down to Iowa, get a few starts, and I think you'll see him back here pitching well for us," Piniella said. "I didn't expect it. Honestly, I was expecting him to come to camp and try to get higher than the fourth spot in the rotation. That's the type of ability I think he has.

"I was never even aware of the fact that his problem of control was in the past, because last year he was the best strike thrower we had. He didn't walk a person all last spring."

Piniella said he told Hill the Cubs were holding a spot in the rotation "as soon as he gets himself straightened out."

Added Piniella: "He didn't take it very well. He understands. He was more upset at himself. He's a good kid. He really is. He's been worrying a lot. He needs to relax and just go pitch."