MIAMI -- The morning after, Dave Roberts talked about his highly debated decision to remove Rich Hill seven innings into a perfect game in Saturday's 5-0 win over the Marlins.
Joking that he went through a six-pack after the game and didn't get much sleep, Roberts said he would make the same decision under the same conditions -- with Hill's recent history of finger blisters, with Hill perhaps the best pitcher in the game but making his next start on regular rest, with three weeks left in the regular season, with Clayton Kershaw having pitched three innings in 2 1/2 months and with the club having already overcome an avalanche of pitching injuries and an eight-game deficit.
"We've talked about the 'team-first' from the beginning of Spring Training, and for me to put any one player's individual success -- as amazing and great as it would have been -- ahead of the team to potentially compromise our goal, I think I would lose credibility," the Dodgers' manager said. "Dodgers fans are really upset with me, and I get it. But true Dodgers fans understand that my responsibility is to the team and the organization."
Roberts said he yanked Hill because of concern that at 89 pitches in South Florida humidity, Hill -- pitching on a week's rest -- would be at increasing risk of more finger problems by going two more innings, especially with his next two starts scheduled on regular rest. Roberts said had Hill continued to pitch and was injured badly enough to miss the postseason, it would have been "irresponsible on my part."
"There might be some managers that let it play out, but for me, nothing is at the risk of the team's success, especially at this point in the season," Roberts said. "If it was early in the year, I would have let him go back out."
Roberts said trainers monitored Hill's index finger after each inning, manipulating the skin to determine irritation and heat. He said he acted on the advice of the training staff.
"Richie said the blister wasn't affecting him, and that was true, he was throwing well," Roberts said. "Talking to the trainer, the blister -- from a medical viewpoint -- and he sees tenderness, those are symptoms that the trainer, as he's gotten familiar with Rich and the blister, the next step is a blister that presents itself. Knowing that, what the usage is and what it's taken as far as extra rest between starts and knowing he's on regular rest his next two starts, with the information given and what my eyes told me, that was the decision."
Hill repeatedly argued his case to stay in the game during the top of the seventh inning, Roberts said, but at least he wasn't taking the ball from Clayton Kershaw in a perfect game.
"That might have gotten physical," Roberts joked.
"We won a baseball game, that's the most important thing. Sometimes, a lot of us want our cake and eat it too. A perfect game would have been great, but in my opinion, it wasn't going to happen as far as risk versus reward."