Revs’ RHP Shawn Hill signed by Blue Jays
The York Revolution announced Monday that right-handed starter Shawn Hill has been picked up by the Toronto Blue Jays and assigned to Class AAA Las Vegas.
After what he did with the Revs in his five starts, it was just a matter of time before a big league club came calling for Hill. The righty did not allow a run in his five starts, setting a club record 27.2 consecutive innings scoreless streak (snapped Corey Thurman’s previous 24-inning mark set over four starts back in June 2008).
Hill becomes the third York pitcher to have their contracts purchased by major league clubs this season, joining lefty reliever Ian Thomas (Braves) and lefty starter Ryan Feierabend (Reds).
The signing seems to be a good fit for Hill, too, as he’ll be attempting a comeback to the big leagues with the same team he pitched for in the majors near the end of the 2010 season.
Vascular surgery: Hill’s time with the Blue Jays in 2010 marked the sixth time in his career he reached the big leagues. During an interview in early May, Hill had said he pretty much pitched through the entire 2010 season despite experiencing severe pain after games. The following spring training, the then Florida Marlins released Hill because the pain returned in his elbow.
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.
The 31-year-old Hill eventually underwent vascular surgery in February to remove a rib under his right clavicle.
“It’s a small rib. You would never even know it’s there,” Hill had said. “So, they removed that and the part of the muscle that goes through the area.”
Comeback: While in York, Hill had said it’s the healthiest he’s felt in four years. But despite his dominance on the mound, he had said after a couple of his starts that he still didn’t feel like he had his best stuff.
So, one has to imagine he’s only going to get better as the season progresses. And given what he did with York already this season, his future looks bright.
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.
York signs Chico: With Hill’s departure, York signed left-handed starter Matt Chico to fill his spot in the rotation.
Chico and Hill were teammates with the Nationals back in 2008. And knowing that Chico had recently been released by the New Jersey Jackals (independent Can-Am League), Hill recommended the Revs take a look at him.
Chico is coming off possibly his worst consecutive starts in his now 10-year pro career. In five starts for New Jersey, the 29-year-old lefty posted an 0-4 record and 9.39 ERA. He struck out 13 and walked 11 in 23 innings of work. New Jersey released him on June 13.
Despite his poor numbers with New Jersey, there is reason to believe Chico does have some upside.
A former third-round draft pick of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2003,Chico would be traded along with right-hander Garrett Mock to the Nationals August 7, 2006 in exchange for righty Livan Hernandez.
The following season, Chico made the Nats’ starting rotation out of spring training. He would make 31 starts that year in his rookie season, going 7-9 with a 4.63 ERA. Having never previously pitched above Class AA, Chico that year led the Nats’ staff in starts, innings, strikeouts and wins while ranking No. 2 in the majors in starts by a rookie behind Boston’s Daisuke Matsuzaka (32).
The following season Chico was the Nats’ No. 2 starter coming out of spring training but went 0-6 with a 6.19 ERA in 11 games (eight starts) and was optioned to Class AAA Columbus. He made just one appearance for Columbus before undergoing Tommy John surgery.
He made it back to action in 2009 and reached the majors again with the Nats’ in 2010, starting in just one game. Chico has totaled 43 games (40 startes) in the majors with Washington, going 7-15 with a 4.95 ERA from 2007 through 2010.
Last year Chico bounced between Class AA Harrisburg, Class AAA Syracuse and GCL Nationals, combining for a 5.87 ERA in 27 games (two starts).
Pitching search continues: Chico’s woes continued on Monday night. In his first start in a Revs’ uniform, the lefty allowed five runs on six hits in four innings of work, walking four and striking out three. He threw 47 of his 81 pitches for strikes. That likely means York’s search for quality starting pitching is likely still ongoing, like it has pretty much been ongoing since Feierabend was picked up in early June. Hill, Thurman and Chris Cody have been York’s most reliable starters, while Yunior Novoa and Omar Javier have been inconsistent.
The Revs signed former Baltimore Orioles’ starter Chris Waters last week, but he came to York not having seen live action since the 2010 season. He started Saturday’s game at Somerset, tossing two scoreless innings (allowed two hits, struck out three, no walks). So, he’s probably still a couple starts away from going at least five innings in a start.
For now, York’s starting rotation looks like this: RHP Corey Thurman (5-1, 4.24 ERA), Waters (0-0, 0.00), Javier (0-5, 6.61 ERA), LHP Chris Cody (4-5, 4.15 ERA).
However, there should be some optimism about York’s pitching. Prior to Chico’s start on Monday, Revs pitching had allowed just 10 earned runs in its last 60.1 IP (1.49 ERA) since June 11, and just eight runs combined over the previous six games.
Outfield injuries: York is also likely still looking for another outfielder. Last week, outfielder Bobby Kielty opted to retire, leaving the Revs with four outfielders. On Saturday, outfielder Scott Grimes sustained a sprained thumb while diving for a fly ball and has been out of action since then.
As a result, York is down to three outfielders: Brandon Haveman, Michael Hernandez and James Shanks. And Shanks sat out five games last week to rest up his left leg. Shanks said earlier this season he is battling tendonitis in the left knee and it’s just something he’ll have to play through. York skipper Andy Etchebarren has put Shanks at the designated hitter spot several times this season to give him rest from manning the outfield. But he’s been playing the outfield with Grimes out.