Blue Jays sign Hill away from Revs
Former big league right-hander Shawn Hill has been signed away from the York Revolution for the second time. Two days after the Revs signed Hill, the Blue Jays on Sunday signed Hill to a minor league deal, according to CBS Sports and mLive.com.
It’s also just three days after Hill had a workout in front of Blue Jays’ personnel last Thursday in Florida.
“I just threw a bullpen for the (Toronto Blue) Jays probably an hour-and-a-half ago,” Hill said by phone Thursday when he was chatting about coming to York at the time. “They had me around 88 to 90 (miles per hour) with movement and command (on my pitches). I felt like my old self. I feel like I did last spring. I really think it was a matter of getting away…during the season it’s hard to radically change things. When I get away from throwing for two months and start from scratch you get back to what you know.”
York will still retain Hill’s Atlantic League rights for the 2014 season should he become a free agent again later in the year.
This marks the third time in Hill’s big league career he has been signed by the Blue Jays, the same club with whom he last pitched in the majors in 2010 and 2012. He’s now back with the same club that signed him out of York two years ago after Hill tossed a franchise record 27.2-straight scoreless innings for the Revs. Hill went on to return to the majors that year, tossing three scoreless innings against the New York Yankees in Toronto’s final game of the year.
While it’s not clear where Hill will start the 2014 season, it’ll likely be at Class AAA Buffalo. Should that be the case, Buffalo will have already played 20 games by the time York opens up its 2014 season April 24. So there’s a very real possibility Hill could be back with York by that time if he gets off to a poor start at Buffalo.
Hill, 32, had said last week he is far from thinking about retirement and this is the best he’s felt since the beginning of the 2007 season, which ended up being the best of his 12-year pro career when the righty went 4-5 with a 3.42 ERA in 16 starts for the Washington Nationals. For his career, Hill has a 10-18 record and 4.69 ERA in 44 starts and one relief appearance in the majors from 2004 to 2012.
In his time in York two seasons ago, Hill posted a 2-0 record and 2.43 ERA in seven games, the last five of them being starts.
Hill’s departure leaves a gaping hole in the Revs’ rotation, which now includes four starters in the aging Corey Thurman, the 35-year-old who is coming off one of his worst seasons as a pro, and question marks in Alain Quijano and Wes Roemer. Question marks because neither have yet to prove themselves in the Atlantic League after putting up good numbers in other independent leagues in recent seasons.
Left-hander Chris Cody is clearly the ace of the bunch, but even he is coming off a season in which he tossed a career-high 176 innings in 2013. And that’s not including the 45-plus innings he pitched down in Venezuela when he played winter ball for the first time in his eight-year pro career. Although Cody’s fairly young at just 30-years-old, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see some wear and tear on his left arm after throwing more than 200 innings in the last 12 calendar months. Then again, Cody collected 164.1 innings pitched in 2012, which at the time was a career-high. And then he came back in 2013 and put up even better numbers on the mound while tossing even more innings. So maybe he’ll just do it all over again in 2014.
Still, Revs fans shouldn’t fret just yet. There are four more weeks until York’s Opening Day. And plenty of pitchers currently in spring training, either in big league or minor league camp, will likely be without jobs in the coming days and weeks as clubs begin to set their major league and affiliated rosters. There’s a good chance York could snatch one of them up between now and then.