SAN FRANCISCO -- Rich Hill took a step closer to returning to the Dodgers' starting rotation on Wednesday, just not a big step.Hill tested his chronically blistered left middle finger unbandaged by throwing a 30-pitch simulated game at AT&T Park with Austin Barnes and Scott Van Slyke batting.Hill said his
SAN FRANCISCO -- Rich Hill took a step closer to returning to the Dodgers' starting rotation on Wednesday, just not a big step.
Hill tested his chronically blistered left middle finger unbandaged by throwing a 30-pitch simulated game at AT&T Park with Austin Barnes and Scott Van Slyke batting.
Hill said his finger felt 100 percent healed and he was ready "for the next step," but manager Dave Roberts wasn't impressed with the pitch quality and said the next step would be a 30- to 35-pitch outing on Saturday, either a sim game or a Minor League rehab start.
"As far as the finger in concerned, he came out of it fine," said Roberts. "For me, when you're looking at the practice of being in a Major League game, I don't think the quality of pitches was where it needs to be, and that goes without saying, and Rich understands that."
Said Hill: "The finger felt great; the command was not good, below average. But I feel ready to go from my perspective. It's been almost two weeks waiting, whatever they want me to do. The next step is whatever they tell me to do. Right now, it feels 100 percent."
Hill pitched five innings on April 5, went on the 10-day disabled list, came off to pitch three innings April 16 and went back on the DL the next day. He apparently will be on it for a while longer, as the Dodgers want to know that the finger can withstand the intensity and 100-pitch friction needed from a Major League starting pitcher.
In addition, any urgency of rushing Hill back has been at least partially alleviated by the promotion of 20-year-old Julio Urias to make his 2017 debut on Thursday and remain in the rotation.
"I don't know if it's difficult, it's more to finally get him here, and the vision of having Julio part of our rotation and now moving forward and having that consistency is really exciting for us," said Roberts. "You lose Julio, you lose Rich, it's been kind of a patchwork. To get Julio in there, I think we're in a pretty good place."
In another starting-pitching update, Clayton Kershaw did his usual running the day after a start, although he did have his bruised right calf wrapped. He was getting an extra day of rest anyway and is expected to make his next start.
Ken Gurnick has covered the Dodgers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2001.