Dodgers navigating Hill's eagerness to pitch

August 14th, 2019

MIAMI -- As the Dodgers prepared for batting practice prior to Wednesday's game at Marlins Park, stood on the mound before moving around the infield with a baseball he was eager to throw.

Hill has been on the injured list since June 20 with a left forearm strain, but Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said the veteran southpaw has started a throwing program and is feeling good.

"We're trying not to think too far out, and more just progressing with his throwing program. Get him off the mound and continue to build him up, but then wake up at the end of September and see where we're at," Friedman told "The most important thing to us is that he's able to impact us in October. Ideally, that would be in a starting role, but the most important thing is that he's able to help us navigate October."

During the 2018 World Series, Hill allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings in the Dodgers' 9-6 loss to the Red Sox in Game 4. He also made two starts in the '17 Fall Classic, posting a 2.08 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in 8 2/3 innings.

The Dodgers' regular season ends on Sept. 29 at San Francisco, with the National League Division Series presented by Utz scheduled to begin on Oct. 3.

"The timing is a little tricky, just that we're working with a hard stop at the end of September," Friedman said. "But the good thing is with Rich and his mentality, we just work every day to hold him back a little because he's champing at the bit.

"He wants to pitch tonight, as you witnessed with him on the mound. It's helpful whenever you're working with a guy that has that burning desire to be out there, and now it's just about bringing him along in a way that not only allows for him to come back, but hopefully stay back."

Friedman praises rookie catcher Will Smith

"He's been incredible," Friedman said. "Just the preparation. Obviously, what he's done in the batter's box is evident to all. But what he's done behind the plate and the amount of care he's shown towards that aspect of the game, I think he's earned the respect of all his teammates."

Being cautious with Pollock

After set a career high with his third double during the sixth inning of Tuesday's 15-1 win over the Marlins, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts elected to take him out for a pinch-runner. Pollock missed five of six games during the last homestand with a groin issue, and it's a situation the Dodgers are monitoring.

On Tuesday night, Roberts mentioned the likelihood of Pollock not being in Wednesday's starting lineup before returning for Thursday's series finale at 12:05 p.m. PT. The veteran outfielder was available off the bench on Wednesday.

"A.J.'s good. He could've played today," Roberts said. "We're just trying to be extra cautious with him. He'd be available if there's a situation that could potentially impact the game."

Pollock, who signed a four-year, $55 million contract over the offseason, spent time on the 60-day injured list because of right elbow inflammation. Since returning to action on July 12, he is batting .321 (25-for-78) with six doubles, six homers and 16 RBIs in 22 games.

Worth noting

Both Enrique Hernandez (left hand sprain) and Chris Taylor (left forearm fracture) will begin rehab assignments this weekend.