Posted on September 11, 2016 by Bryan Zarpentine
Just six outs from history and baseball immortality Saturday night, Rich Hill was denied a chance to finish what he started. Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts removed Hill in the midst of a perfect game after seven innings. Hill retired the first 21 batters he faced, but was removed from the game with Roberts concerned about his long-term health. Joe Blanton allowed a hit in the 8th inning to break up the perfect game, although the Dodgers would go on to beat the Miami Marlins 5-0.
“I understand,” Hill said about being removed with a perfect game. “I hold Dave (Roberts) in the highest regard. He’s in a tough position. I get it. I’m very adamant about living in the moment. I didn’t want to come out of the game, right? But there’s a bigger picture here, and we all know what it is. Put Dave in a very difficult position. Something you look at it and move on. That’s all you can do. We’re in the middle of this race and continue to move forward, that’s the best way I can put it.”
Hill was making just his 3rd start since being traded to the Dodgers on August 1 right before the trade deadline. He remained on the DL after the trade while trying to work his way through a blister on his finger. However, Hill threw just 89 pitches before being removed.
“I feel sick to my stomach,” Roberts explained after the game. “Rich obviously had a perfect game and an opportunity of a lifetime. Just to take the personal side and understand there’s a great opportunity for him and his family, his teammates. But as a manager, you’re taking a lot of different information as far as we’ve been dealing with Rich’s blister.”
Roberts says the team’s training staff informed him about a heated spot on Hill’s finger that could potentially lead to a blister. “For me, talking to the training staff and getting their advice, just weighing it all out, it’s what’s best for Rich and the Dodgers,” Roberts said. “It’s the toughest thing I’ve had to do, but I know it was for the reason of giving us the best chance to win a World Series. A lot of fans in Los Angeles are really upset with me, I’m sure.”
Hill disagreed that there was a potential issue with his finger, but admits he can see things from the standpoint of Roberts and the front office. “I totally understand where the front office is coming from and their concern,” Hill said. “But I’m looking at it from the team aspect. That is something that is bigger than any player. So looking at it from that perspective, you have to understand what that concept is. But the finger is fine.”
The Dodgers obviously have their sites set on making a deep postseason run and a potential World Series appearance, which Roberts believes justifies the move despite the controversy his choice has caused. “You know what — situations come up and you’ve got to deal with them the best way,” Roberts said. “I’m in my infancy, but this is the best job I could ever imagine. You have to make tough decisions. I just can’t say how bad I feel for Richie and his family. After we’re holding that trophy up, it’ll feel a lot better.”