Results tagged ‘ Hill ’

Player sightings and specials at Captain Morgan Club

CAPTAIN MORGAN CLUB 041709 07.jpgThe Captain Morgan Club was the place to be this last homestand, with several Cubs players stopping by after their games. The Louisiana boys, Ryan Theriot and Mike Fontenot, were in attendance Thursday evening after defeating the Padres and had a great time with the Cubs crowd.

And then after Saturday’s win, the Captain Morgan Club featured a couple players integral in the late innings — Bobby Scales, who scored the winning run, joined game-winner Sean Marshall as well as backup catcher Koyie Hill for a couple hours after the game. The entire Cubs family is excited about the indoor/outdoor facility added to rightfield and hope you’ll join us there starting at 10 a.m., both when the team is at home and on the road.

Also, the folks at the Captain Morgan Club started a new rotation of daily promotions today, including drink specials, on-field events and tournaments. The full list:

MONDAYS: 50 percent off your entire check; Every Monday night two guests will win postseason batting practice on Wrigley Field

TUESDAYS: $3 Heineken and Amstel Light bottles; Every Tuesday night two guests will win an invitation to a postseason private party with a Cubs Hall of Famer

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Baltimore chopped

The Cubs shipped enigmatic left-hander Rich Hill to the Baltimore Orioles today for a player to be named later. Hill had struggled with his command in 2008, as well as an injured back.

Indeed, it was a precipitous fall for the promising southpaw who the Cubs selected in the fourth round of the 2002 draft out of the University of Michigan. Blessed with a looping 12-6 curve, Hill made the cover of the June 2007 issue of Vine Line (below) displaying the grip he used to confound hitters en route to a 11-8 and 3.92 ERA campaign that season. At the end of the 2006 season, Hill had ratched up his value when he went 7-1 with a 1.80 ERA in just 15 starts–a lone bright spot in an otherwise dismal 2006 season for the big-league Cubs.

VL june R Hill.jpgLike outfielder Felix Pie, who also was dealt to Baltimore in January, Hill’s minor-league numbers were impressive. He struck out 626 men in just 451.2 innings and was highly sought after by other teams. I remember our general manager Jim Hendry telling me during the 2006-07 off-season, he couldn’t get past the first five minutes of a conversation with other GMs without someone stating to get anything done, Hill had to be involved.

I liked Rich a lot–I remember in 2005 after he first made his big-league debut then had been sent down. While the team was on the road, Hill had just finished packing up his car to head back to Iowa. I ran into him in the concourse. He looked despondent, but when I told him he’d be back he just nodded and smiled.

The knock on him always was his fastball command. Everyone knew he had the big curveball and even a middling change, but he never could get that fastball right. Former Cubs bench coach Dick Pole told me once he challenged Rich to throw high strikes. Even though he sat around 90-91 mph, the curve made it look even faster. Dick was right–and Rich’s meteor took off.

I broached this subject with Rich one day. A terrifically cerebral guy, he read a lot and liked to play golf. But I think he needed to trust his stuff. Stop thinking so much. Even manager Lou Piniella said so. “He carries this burden around on his shoulders,” Lou said of Hill. “I tell him, go home, talk to your wife. Go out to a movie. Stop thinking.”

It was then Rich told me he had been reading a book called “Thinking Body, Dancing Mind,” by Chungliang Al Huang. (No relation.) I picked it up myself and found it insightful–not so much for any performance of mine, but rather, why Rich would like it. That mind of his, going a mile a minute, worrying about perfection, calmed down after he read it. I wonder how many of those lessons he relied on last year as he struggled through wildness and injury.

He’ll now compete for a spot on the Orioles with familiar faces around him–Baltimore’s bullpen coach Alan Dunn has worked with Rich before, as has O’s pitching coach Rick Kranitz, as well as Pie. Perhaps both he and Felix can find that meteor on its second time around.

–Mike Huang

To subscribe to Vine Line and get an exclusive gift for subscribers brand new for 2009, order online or call 1-800-248-9467.

 

Down on the Farm: Oneri Fleita on Hart and Hill

Throughout the season, Vine Line Online will speak with players, managers and front-office personnel in the minor-league system. Today, “Down on the Farm” checks in with Oneri Fleita, Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel, about how Kevin Hart and Rich Hill will find their ways back to Chicago. Keep coming to the blog for reports, player profiles, interviews and stories during the week.

The old baseball adage “It’s harder to stay in the majors than get there” rings true even for successful players — just ask Kevin Hart and Rich Hill.

Hart was a September call up last year and was a key ingredient in the Cubs playoff run. He posted a 0.82 ERA with 13 strikeouts in 11 innings. Hill also broke out in 2007, winning 11 games, leading the Cubs in strikeouts with 183, and ranking fifth in the National League in batting average against (.235). But both have struggled this year and were optioned to Triple-A Iowa to work out their problems.

Hart.jpgFor Hart, Fleita believes, it might have been an issue of familiarity.

“[Hart's] a young guy who was brought up and asked to throw out of the bullpen, and did a nice job,” Fleita said. “But because of his lack of experience with irregular work, it was hard for him to stay in sync….”

Fleita believes the key to getting Hart back to Chicago is by getting him back in a familiar role as a starting pitcher, something that may even lead to other opportunities for the big righty.

“Hart has been put back [into the rotation], to get him back on track,” Fleita said. “Putting him in the rotation gives us, as an organization and him individually, the opportunity to be a starter, should that need arise. And if not, it will give him the opportunity to get in sync so that the next time he comes up he will be back where he was last year throwing out of the ‘pen.”

Hill.jpgUnlike Hart, Hill was used as a starter, and instead of losing rhythm and routine, Hill seemed to lose trust in his pitches and thus his command.

“Hill has been sent [to Iowa] to gain a little confidence,” Fleita said. “He struggled to throw strikes and is kind of retracing his steps. I don’t think it will be a major overhaul. Sometimes players lose their confidence and get a little off track, but he threw here a couple nights ago and looks like he’s right back where he was.”

If that is the case then look for Hart and Hill to be back in Chicago soon, something that Fleita attributes to their team-first approach.

“The bottom line is that we are talking about two guys with great attitudes that care more about getting up there and helping us win than [they do about] themselves.”

Zach Martin

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