Hill topper: Revs upgrade starting rotation

Posted by on May 3, 2012 in Andres Perez, Camden Riversharks, Roster, Santo Luis, Scott Grimes, Shawn Hill, Signings, Stephen Douglas, York Revolution

RHP Shawn Hill

When it comes to surgeries, Shawn Hill could probably write a medical book.

–Tommy John surgery to his right throwing elbow in 2004.

–Surgery to repair a separated left shoulder in 2007.

–Tommy John surgery again to his right elbow in 2009.

–Oh, yeah, he also had his elbow scoped in 2008 and 2009.

–Finally, he’s hoping his most recent surgery in February will be his last.

Hill, a former major league starting pitcher, arrived in York on Thursday. The right-hander is set to see game action on Saturday against Bridgeport, and he’ll likely be worked into the starting rotation sometime soon.

He says this is the healthiest he’s felt since 2004 when he first reached the big leagues with the Montreal Expos.

The reason for his optimism is somewhat complicated, but Hill basically feels like he’s been misdiagnosed for the past eight years. And the most recent surgery in which he had a rib removed may have finally fixed him.

Hill talks with Corey Thurman in the dugout during the York Revolution's game with Camden at Sovereign Bank Stadium Thursday. Bill Kalina photo

Vascular surgery: While he had been feeling pain in his right elbow, the problem wasn’t with the elbow after all. Rather, it was a matter of correcting a blood circulation issue.

“Essentially I wasn’t getting the right circulation (to my arm) so the nerves (in my elbow) ended up getting damaged and not functioning properly,” Hill said.

To repair the problem, the 31-year-old Hill underwent vascular surgery in February, this time to remove a rib under his right clavicle.

“It’s a small rib. You would never even know it’s there,” Hill said. “So, they removed that and the part of the muscle that goes through the area.”

Hill had been dealing with the pain in his arm for years. He reached the big leagues for the sixth time in his career at the end of the 2010 season with the Toronto Blue Jays.

He said he pretty much pitched through that entire season despite experiencing severe pain after games.

The following spring training, the then Florida Marlins released Hill because the pain returned in his elbow.

“Last year after spring training it was basically up to me to find an answer,” he said. “So, I had stem cell treatment done to see if it would help. I don’t know if it did or not.”

Hill went on to pitch for Team Canada in the 2011 Pan-Am Games in October, all the while still looking around for answer to fix his arm.

The Florida resident ended up talking to the team doctor of the Tampa Bay Rays, who suggested seeing a vascular surgeon in Dallas.

Effective: Given what he’s been through, Hill has thought about walking away from the game. But he’s put up decent numbers in the majors, despite not feeling 100 percent.

In 44 combined starts spanning from 2004 to 2010, Hill has a career 9-18 record and 4.47 ERA at the big league level.
“It’s just tough to say why I should be walking away from everything when I can be effective if I’m fine,” he said.
Hill said he feels fine now. He just has to show he’s still effective.

Revs’ Upgrade: If Hill is healthy, he might end up being a good addition to a starting rotation that, quite frankly, hasn’t been very good. Before Ryan Feierabend’s start on Wednesday (Feierabend threw five scoreless innings against Camden on Wednesday), Revs starters had a combined 6.87 ERA. With Chris Cody surrending nine earned runs in 3.1 innings on Thursday, the ERA for Revs starters has ballooned to 7.76.

York Revolution's Scott Grimes passes third-base coach Enohel Polanco after hitting his second homer in consecutive at-bats and innings on Thursday. Bill Kalina photo

Results from Thursday’s game: York fell to 2-5 with a 15-10 loss in the series finale against the Camden Riversharks on Thursday at Sovereign Bank Stadium. While the pitching wasn’t great, the bats finally came alive. York collected double-digit hits and double-digit runs for the first time this season, and also surpassed six hits in a game for the first time this year.

Scott Grimes hit two solo homers. He became the all-time leader in home runs hit by a Revolution player at Sovereign Bank Stadium (18). He moved into a second-place tie with Matt Dryer for the most homers in a Revs’ uniform (35). It marked the fourth time in his Revolution career he had a multiple-homer game, tying Jason Aspito for the club record.

Second baseman Andres Perez also clubbed a grand slam in the sixth inning. Outfielder Stephen Douglas made it back-to-back homers after Grimes hit his first in the fourth inning. Douglas has now hit safely in five straight games, the Revs’ longest hitting streak so far this season.

Roster moves: We found out Wednesday that Etch’ moved lefty Jesus Sanchez out of the starting rotation and into the bullpen. He also named righty Omar Javier and lefty Yunior Novoa the team’s No. 4 and No. 5 starters. It’s likely Hill will be moved into the starting rotation sooner rather than later, so somebody is going to be the odd man out. Jesus Sanchez is scheduled to see time out of the bullpen on Friday. Javier and Novoa will start on Friday and Saturday, respectively. So, the performances of Sanchez, Javier and Novoa this week might have an effect on their future with the Revs.

It sounds like the Revs are going to make some roster moves on Friday. Etch’ had said earlier in the week he didn’t like what he saw out of reliever Ricardo Gomez. And he has been upset in the past with reliever Santo Luis, saying he thought Luis was going to be a guy that could throw in the mid-90s, but has only thrown in the high 80s. Luis surrendered a two-run homer in Thursday’s game. When asked about Luis afterwards, Etch’ had this to say to reporters:

“I’ll have a meeting with my coaches here after you guys leave, and I’ll let you know tomorrow.”

Bridgeport preview: The Revs will next host the Bridgeport Bluefish for a three-game series. (Note* All stats through Wednesday for Bridgeport) The ‘Fish thus far have a team .269 batting average (second-best in the Atlantic League) and 3.15 team ERA (fourth in the league). Their 24 total runs through Wednesday is tied with Lancaster for second-worst in the league. Bridgeport is the only team left (through Wednesday) in the league to not hit a home run.

With Thursday’s 10-run, 11-hit performance, York upped its team batting average from .163 to .184 (which still ranks dead last in the league). York’s 19 total runs is also last in the league. Since I’m posting this before the league’s other three games are played Thursday night, take this stat for what it’s worth: York’s team ERA is now 5.40, which is second-to-last at this point in the league.

Here are the projected starters for the three-game set with Bridgeport:

Friday, 6:30 p.m.: York RHP Omar Javier (0-0, 6.75 ERA) vs. Matt Pike (0-1, 2.25 ERA)

Saturday, 6:30 p.m.: York LHP Yunior Novoa (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. LHP Isaac Hess (1-0, 0.00 ERA)

Sunday, 5 p.m.: York RHP Corey Thurman (0-1, 6.35 ERA) vs. LHP Gilbert De La Vara (0-0, 7.71 ERA)

Quotebook: Revolution officials on Wednesday said they were looking for a bat boy for Thursday’s game. So, York Dispatch columnist Larry Hicks took the Revs up on the offer. When asked about the performance of Hicks after the game, Etch’ had this to say:

“He looked worn out. He’ll probably go home, have three beers and go to bed.”

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