Hill is one of the most intriguing signings of the off-season, as he returns from a season ending elbow injury in 2012.
Hill had not allowed an earned run in eight appearances in 2011, retiring 24 of the 30 batters he faced, allowing just one hit to left-handed hitters (1 for 14) as he refashioned his pitching delivery on recommendation from former pitching coach John Farrell.
He dropped down sidearm adjusting his arm angle slightly upward in 2011, which granted him success in the limited time he saw before his season-ending injury on June 1.
Since then he has had surgery, and has been working out three days a week at Fenway under the eye of rehab specialist Mike Reinold, while spending another couple of days working on strength with new Red Sox strength coach Mike Boyle.
When asked if he would be ready for opening day, Hill said it's possible, but he won't rush it.
“That would be great,” he said. “It’s an absolute possibility. But is it the smartest move? Right now, could I pitch on April 5 and be ready for the season? Yes. Is that necessarily the right move, personally and for the team? Let’s say you have a great April, May and June, now we turn around down the stretch and it turns out you hit the gas too early. You want to make sure the risks don’t outweigh the benefits.
The Red Sox have been searching for a lefty to get their batting counterparts out since the demise of Hideki Okajima, and for the short time Hill was healthy in 2011, thought they may have found their guy.
“My elbow really feels like it’s cemented in there,” Hill said. “It’s kind of crazy when you think about it, that a 45-minute surgery could prolong your career for who knows how long. Ten years? You see these guys like Arthur Rhodes and Darren Oliver pitching into their mid-40s. But first things first.”
Boston has already made it's bullpen a primary focus this off-season, adding closer Andrew Bailey and set-up man Mark Melancon via trade.
The Red Sox will most likely take a reserved approach to Hill, who if healthy could play a major role in the bullpen. That would be a welcome scenario for new manager Bobby Valentine.
The Boston Herald Red Sox Blog contributed to this story