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Game 1 Rich Hill pregame interview

MLB.com

Q. I know the first thing people will ask you is about your finger; is it in good condition for tomorrow? And the pitcher that is pitching tomorrow for Houston is very tough. Is it good enough to throw a few curves?

RICH HILL: Yeah, the finger is good, and obviously we've been facing tough pitching all year, and it's something that obviously is going to be a great environment. Something where it's two teams that are going to be totally aggressive. And just looking for a good environment where everybody is letting everything fly and giving their best effort.

Q. Could I ask you to take us back to December of last year, the days surrounding your signing with this team. And also what it felt like to see Kenley happen and then Turner happen after that, that crucial pivotal month last year?

So the clubhouse I don't think changed very much from last year. I think maybe 23 out of the 25 guys, something like that, have come back from last year. So it's a familiar clubhouse. Everybody had the same goal in mind from Spring Training, throughout the season, to get to this point. Obviously we didn't know what the end result was going to be, but what we did so well throughout the season was not attach ourselves to the result. We really were just focused in on executing and staying in the moment.

Q. Can you talk about the effort that you have to exert both mentally and physically when you have a lineup that has this much strength?

RICH HILL: I mean, really at the end of the day it's about attacking and staying convicted in your approach. You get to this point and it's not about changing your game plan or doing something different, right? You've done your homework, you've prepared throughout the entire season to get to this point. And if you're experienced and you understand throughout the course of your career how to draw upon those experiences when you get to this point. It's not about changing your game plan, it's not about going too far away from what has made you successful.

And getting to the Big Leagues is the same thing. You know what has made you successful to get to the Big Leagues and you don't change that as you move forward.

So with that said, this is a tough lineup. And again it's really going to be just a great battle of effort, really, on both sides. You see guys like Jose Altuve, Josh Reddick, who many of us know here from last year, Brian McCann, just some really great players and great people on the other side. And with that, they bring that effort. And you're going to see it from their side and you're going to see it from our side. See where the results fall in the end.

Q. Lance McCullers in his last game has thrown 20 consecutive curveballs to end that game. What's the most curveballs you've ever thrown in a row? And is there a strategic or physical risk that would keep you from doing something like that?

RICH HILL: I think one of the things strategically -- I did see that, yeah. It was awesome. Strategically I think what you're risking is for the opportunity for the hitter to see multiple breaking balls in a row, and it would almost become automatic like they are able to see the same pitch over and over out of your hand. So you may lose a little bit of deception, but with that said on that point, you are also in an environment where you have to go with your best pitch. And if your best pitch is a breaking ball, if it happens to be a breaking ball, you've got to go with your best, right?

And for me, I'm not a hundred percent sure how many curveballs I've thrown in a row, I would guess it was probably 10 or 11. But total for a game, I think it was probably over 45 to 50. If you take a hundred pitches, I'm just going off of a hundred pitch count. But if you're going to use a percentage, I would say 51, 52 percentage in the amount of usage in a curveball during the game.

Q. Physically would you worry about a blister at that point?

RICH HILL: In which environment? World Series environment? Well, you know, I think if there is something where that is coming up you have to -- it's very tough for us as competitors to say, hey, you know, this is flaring up or something is happening and I need to come out of the game. But you have to have enough court awareness to look out for the team. It's not about yourself; it's about the team. Am I going to be going in there and now damaging the team because I'm selfish on the standpoint that I want to go out there and continue to pitch.

Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that 50 guys, 25 on each side, want to go out there and battle and fight and give everything they have. But it's up to the individual to understand, and again have that awareness to pull themself out, if something is flaring up. I think in a situation like the World Series, it even heightens in that moment even more.

But I can't really answer the question because it hasn't really happened in a situation where it's like, are you risking a blister in a situation where you're throwing that many curveballs in a row. I can only speak to my past experiences, and I don't believe it's been because of throwing too many curveballs in a row.

Q. Just to follow up on the Astros, they were interested in you, did they put a contract offer in front of you? Did he fly you to Houston and feed you some local delicacies? How far did that go?

RICH HILL: It went pretty far. The contractual talks got pretty deep. It didn't get as far as flying out to Houston. Houston was very familiar with me last year, because of playing in the same division. And I know some of the coaching staff over there and the guys on the team. I know it's a great organization, team that has been familiar with success. And the team now that is enjoying success from their farm system and also the signings that they've gone out to get the players that they needed to fulfill that roster to get into this position.

And knowing that last year, it was a great opportunity, also, on that side to get in a position to get to this point. So we had some really great options going into this season, last offseason. And it was a humbling experience and also at the same time things happen for a reason, and we're excited to be back here in LA.

Q. Going from the Long Island Ducks to starting Game 2 of the World Series for the Dodgers is kind of movie script stuff. Do you think about those days very much? Is there something that you took from your time you spent there? And just how does that whole experience stay with you?

RICH HILL: Well, I think one of the things when I think back to that is just the passion. When I say that, it's just the love that the guys have for the game. And also the pleasant surprise of talent that was in the independent leagues. I think it's something that people will think of and say, wow, it's just a bunch of guys that are washed up or a guys that didn't get an opportunity to make it. But that's not true. If you actually go to a game and take it in and see, there's a lot of good talent here. It just happens that there wasn't any room for these players in affiliated baseball.

But for me when I look back, it was a great opportunity to get back to starting. For whatever reason things fell into place. But the opportunities came around because they did, but I was also prepared and ready for those opportunities. I continued to put in the work. Continued to put in the time every single day to make the most of those opportunities.

And really going back and thinking about that it was a great experience. I wouldn't change that for anything. It was learning, again, reigniting that fire, reigniting that passion for what we do out there on the field. And really getting back into disassociating yourself with the results and just understanding that it is a pitch-to-pitch process and understanding that the moment is all that matters.

Q. To piggyback on that, when you consider the journey that you took to get here, all the stops that you made, the injuries that you rehabbed from, has that heightened the level of appreciation that you have for getting to pitch on this stage?

RICH HILL: Absolutely. I think in those times of struggle and in the times of failure in the rehab, the years of rehabbing, not being in an affiliated clubhouse, and getting the opportunity again is something that, yeah, you really do appreciate. You understand how fortunate you are to play this game and fortunate to be able to get the opportunity to go out there and play, not only for yourself but for my wife, for our son and the fans and understanding that they come to the games to see that effort. They come to see the guys give everything that they have, every single opportunity that they get.

I'm not saying that that's not what I was doing before, I just think that it was more of a realization of, again, disassociating yourself from the results and understanding that it is about the moment and understanding about the moment, in that moment, your effort is all that matters. And when you go out there and you do that, you're going to have a higher percentage of success than not.

So appreciating this, I think everybody in the clubhouse understands what's at stake and it's something that we've all worked for to get to this point, and really continue to go out there and give that unbelievable effort

Q. I know the first thing people will ask you is about your finger; is it in good condition for tomorrow? And the pitcher that is pitching tomorrow for Houston is very tough. Is it good enough to throw a few curves?

RICH HILL: Yeah, the finger is good, and obviously we've been facing tough pitching all year, and it's something that obviously is going to be a great environment. Something where it's two teams that are going to be totally aggressive. And just looking for a good environment where everybody is letting everything fly and giving their best effort.

Q. Could I ask you to take us back to December of last year, the days surrounding your signing with this team. And also what it felt like to see Kenley happen and then Turner happen after that, that crucial pivotal month last year?
:: World Series schedule and coverage ::
So the clubhouse I don't think changed very much from last year. I think maybe 23 out of the 25 guys, something like that, have come back from last year. So it's a familiar clubhouse. Everybody had the same goal in mind from Spring Training, throughout the season, to get to this point. Obviously we didn't know what the end result was going to be, but what we did so well throughout the season was not attach ourselves to the result. We really were just focused in on executing and staying in the moment.

Q. Can you talk about the effort that you have to exert both mentally and physically when you have a lineup that has this much strength?

RICH HILL: I mean, really at the end of the day it's about attacking and staying convicted in your approach. You get to this point and it's not about changing your game plan or doing something different, right? You've done your homework, you've prepared throughout the entire season to get to this point. And if you're experienced and you understand throughout the course of your career how to draw upon those experiences when you get to this point. It's not about changing your game plan, it's not about going too far away from what has made you successful.

And getting to the Big Leagues is the same thing. You know what has made you successful to get to the Big Leagues and you don't change that as you move forward.

So with that said, this is a tough lineup. And again it's really going to be just a great battle of effort, really, on both sides. You see guys like Jose Altuve, Josh Reddick, who many of us know here from last year, Brian McCann, just some really great players and great people on the other side. And with that, they bring that effort. And you're going to see it from their side and you're going to see it from our side. See where the results fall in the end.

Q. Lance McCullers in his last game has thrown 20 consecutive curveballs to end that game. What's the most curveballs you've ever thrown in a row? And is there a strategic or physical risk that would keep you from doing something like that?

RICH HILL: I think one of the things strategically -- I did see that, yeah. It was awesome. Strategically I think what you're risking is for the opportunity for the hitter to see multiple breaking balls in a row, and it would almost become automatic like they are able to see the same pitch over and over out of your hand. So you may lose a little bit of deception, but with that said on that point, you are also in an environment where you have to go with your best pitch. And if your best pitch is a breaking ball, if it happens to be a breaking ball, you've got to go with your best, right?

And for me, I'm not a hundred percent sure how many curveballs I've thrown in a row, I would guess it was probably 10 or 11. But total for a game, I think it was probably over 45 to 50. If you take a hundred pitches, I'm just going off of a hundred pitch count. But if you're going to use a percentage, I would say 51, 52 percentage in the amount of usage in a curveball during the game.

Q. Physically would you worry about a blister at that point?

RICH HILL: In which environment? World Series environment? Well, you know, I think if there is something where that is coming up you have to -- it's very tough for us as competitors to say, hey, you know, this is flaring up or something is happening and I need to come out of the game. But you have to have enough court awareness to look out for the team. It's not about yourself; it's about the team. Am I going to be going in there and now damaging the team because I'm selfish on the standpoint that I want to go out there and continue to pitch.

Everybody knows that. Everybody knows that 50 guys, 25 on each side, want to go out there and battle and fight and give everything they have. But it's up to the individual to understand, and again have that awareness to pull themself out, if something is flaring up. I think in a situation like the World Series, it even heightens in that moment even more.

But I can't really answer the question because it hasn't really happened in a situation where it's like, are you risking a blister in a situation where you're throwing that many curveballs in a row. I can only speak to my past experiences, and I don't believe it's been because of throwing too many curveballs in a row.

Q. Just to follow up on the Astros, they were interested in you, did they put a contract offer in front of you? Did he fly you to Houston and feed you some local delicacies? How far did that go?

RICH HILL: It went pretty far. The contractual talks got pretty deep. It didn't get as far as flying out to Houston. Houston was very familiar with me last year, because of playing in the same division. And I know some of the coaching staff over there and the guys on the team. I know it's a great organization, team that has been familiar with success. And the team now that is enjoying success from their farm system and also the signings that they've gone out to get the players that they needed to fulfill that roster to get into this position.

And knowing that last year, it was a great opportunity, also, on that side to get in a position to get to this point. So we had some really great options going into this season, last offseason. And it was a humbling experience and also at the same time things happen for a reason, and we're excited to be back here in LA.

Q. Going from the Long Island Ducks to starting Game 2 of the World Series for the Dodgers is kind of movie script stuff. Do you think about those days very much? Is there something that you took from your time you spent there? And just how does that whole experience stay with you?

RICH HILL: Well, I think one of the things when I think back to that is just the passion. When I say that, it's just the love that the guys have for the game. And also the pleasant surprise of talent that was in the independent leagues. I think it's something that people will think of and say, wow, it's just a bunch of guys that are washed up or a guys that didn't get an opportunity to make it. But that's not true. If you actually go to a game and take it in and see, there's a lot of good talent here. It just happens that there wasn't any room for these players in affiliated baseball.

But for me when I look back, it was a great opportunity to get back to starting. For whatever reason things fell into place. But the opportunities came around because they did, but I was also prepared and ready for those opportunities. I continued to put in the work. Continued to put in the time every single day to make the most of those opportunities.

And really going back and thinking about that it was a great experience. I wouldn't change that for anything. It was learning, again, reigniting that fire, reigniting that passion for what we do out there on the field. And really getting back into disassociating yourself with the results and just understanding that it is a pitch-to-pitch process and understanding that the moment is all that matters.

Q. To piggyback on that, when you consider the journey that you took to get here, all the stops that you made, the injuries that you rehabbed from, has that heightened the level of appreciation that you have for getting to pitch on this stage?

RICH HILL: Absolutely. I think in those times of struggle and in the times of failure in the rehab, the years of rehabbing, not being in an affiliated clubhouse, and getting the opportunity again is something that, yeah, you really do appreciate. You understand how fortunate you are to play this game and fortunate to be able to get the opportunity to go out there and play, not only for yourself but for my wife, for our son and the fans and understanding that they come to the games to see that effort. They come to see the guys give everything that they have, every single opportunity that they get.

I'm not saying that that's not what I was doing before, I just think that it was more of a realization of, again, disassociating yourself from the results and understanding that it is about the moment and understanding about the moment, in that moment, your effort is all that matters. And when you go out there and you do that, you're going to have a higher percentage of success than not.

So appreciating this, I think everybody in the clubhouse understands what's at stake and it's something that we've all worked for to get to this point, and really continue to go out there and give that unbelievable effort