Hill taking nothing for granted after wreck

February 25th, 2021

All it took were a few seconds for Indians reliever Cam Hill to realize how quickly everything can change.

Hill was driving in Tulsa, Okla., on Nov. 30 when he reached down to get a water jug off the floor on the passenger’s side of the car. When he sat back up, it was too late for him to brake and avoid slamming into the back of the minivan in front of him.

“You can't take this stuff for granted,” Hill said. “And you can't take anything that you do for granted, whether that's being a baseball player, whether it's being a big leaguer, whether it's just being an everyday human. You just can't take things for granted, and things can happen in a blink of an eye.

“I learned from it. It means pay more attention when you're handling a motor vehicle, you know what I'm saying? Be more cognitive of the people around you and the things around you. I think you do have to learn from the experience and accidents do happen. It’s part of life. I think learning from them and being able to bounce back and continue to keep pressing forward is how you respond to that kind of stuff.”

Hill called the family in the minivan over the next two days to make sure everyone was OK. Luckily, no one in the family sustained any injuries and Hill only suffered a broken wrist when the damage indicated it could’ve been much worse. When he learned that he would need surgery, he had to call Indians president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and give him the news.

“When Cam called, one of the immediate reactions is, ‘Is everything OK?’” Antonetti said. “First and foremost is overall health and well-being. Then we focus on how we get him the best care possible with whatever he was dealing with. In Cam’s case, as unfortunate as it is that it was a wrist injury, thankfully it wasn’t life-threatening. So now he was able to get the care that he needs and he’s on the path back to regaining full health and getting back to being a Major League pitcher.”

The Indians got Hill in contact with a doctor who worked under the team’s hand specialist, and the surgery was performed later that night. At that point, Hill’s focus shifted back to his career, and the plan to get ready before Opening Day started to take place. This isn’t the 26-year-old’s first rodeo. Hill had to go through a long recovery process after having Tommy John surgery in 2018. Now, he’s focused on working his way through his rehab.

“I think comes down to your mentality,” Hill said. “It comes down to your work ethic, comes down to your roots, your foundation and what you're about. I don't think there's any time to feel sorry for yourself. … I think at the end of the day, you got to understand that. You got to be realistic with that. And these are the cards I'm dealt with, and you can either fold them and you throw in the towel or you can continue to rise to the occasion.”

Indians manager Terry Francona said that Hill is “vastly ahead” of where the schedule thought he’d be in his rehab entering Spring Training. But Francona also noted that the team is going to take its time with getting Hill back into action so that it doesn’t lead to other injuries. However, Hill said he has no limitations at this point.

“It's just all about the buildup,” Hill said. “I have a standard and I have certain areas and goals and criteria that I want to meet.”

Hill made his Major League debut last July. He owned a 4.91 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP in 18 games, and learned that he can compete on the biggest stage, while also learning what he can focus on better for 2021. But his main goal is to get himself completely healthy in order to get back on the field in hopes that fans will be in the stands this season, including his parents, who will finally be able to see their son pitch in the big leagues in person for the first time.

“I just think they were happy and they were proud,” Hill said. “It sucks that they weren’t a part of it. I tried to tell them, ‘Hey, If I handle my business and I do my thing, there’s going to be plenty more opportunities for you guys to come watch me play.’”