Q. From the outsiders, probably somebody could say that this year has been like a roller coaster for you, because you came to the Athletics, you had a helluva season a lot better than what many could have expected, and then you went through the blisters, the trade. Could you please talk about how you handled this year, getting to the post-season?
RICH HILL: Yeah, I think it's a great question, with just going over the whole spectrum of the season. I think looking back on it and really is just -- and I've said this over and over again, is staying in the moment. Taking each day as it is and being as productive as I can be within the time that I have for every day that I get to play this game. And really, that's the best way that I can sum it up.
And again, bringing that intensity every time that I go to the mound, bringing that passion every time that I get the opportunity to pitch, is something that is with me, really, defines the moment and something that I've been able to do well this year.
And it narrows your focus, too. You're not thinking outside of other things that you can't control, just thinking about what you can control and how you can focus in, again, on to me, it's that pitch. So focusing in on that pitch, executing that pitch and then moving forward from there. Because there's nothing you can do about the pitch that's going to happen or the previous pitch that already happened; it's the pitch that you're throwing right now.
Pretty much day-to-day, that's how I look at it, as well; what do I have to do today? The night before, prepare and have a schedule before I get onto the field to carry out the day's activities that I need to do to get ready to peak on that fifth day.
Q. Rich, blisters, what causes them, why are they a headache, how do they heal? Talk about the challenge of -- blisters seem so innocent, but they are a pain for pitchers.
RICH HILL: Yeah, and it wasn't the normal type of blister, I guess. It was more of an outlier. It was a blister that was more on the pad of my finger, and it wasn't so much on where you would see a normal pitcher's blister on the tip of their finger.
So normally, I would get what you would consider a normal pitcher's blister in spring training and then that calluses over and you're good to go for most of the year. Sometimes it will pop will back up.
But this blister was different. It was on the pad of my finger and that's where it was tough to define and say it was -- it wasn't a normal pitcher's blister. It was kind of an outlier. But I think it had to do with possibly the humidity that day in Houston. I made a start in Houston the next day. I came in and the blister had almost developed overnight, so it was something that was also different.
But to answer the question about healing, I think just time is really the biggest thing. I've heard everything; tried most. I think healing is -- the healing part of it is the time, the time aspect of it.
Q. From a pitching standpoint, what do you see in this Nationals lineup, in particular, the importance of keeping Trea Turner off the bases at the top of the lineup?
RICH HILL: Obviously he's an explosive runner and he can do damage on the base paths.
This is obviously a very good lineup. Guys that will hurt you with the long ball. For me, I have a game plan going into tomorrow, and just to go out there and execute that. And again, it's a pitch-to-pitch process, stay in the moment and execute each pitch as it comes.
But overall, you know, the middle of their lineup is extremely -- you know, they can do damage, obviously. And yeah, keeping Turner off the base paths would be a positive.
Q. You do always talk about staying in the moment and living in the moment. What about this moment, in particular, and the opportunity to start Game 2 in the NLDS considering all you have been through; what is it about this moment that you appreciate?
RICH HILL: Well, it's just, again, the opportunity to get to pitch in the post-season, you know, for the Dodgers and for your teammates.
I guess I don't really look too far ahead. So when the game is going on -- and I enjoy executing the pitch. I enjoy -- afterwards, after the game is over, or you have a good game, you might sit there and somebody might say, Oh, you can relax now, you can enjoy it.
No, I enjoyed it while it was going on. I don't enjoy it after the fact, I guess. I don't know if that makes sense. It's kind of you put so much work in, you put so much time in to be as successful as possible, and in those moments, within each pitch that you get to execute, that is where that passion comes out of and intensity.
But looking at it tomorrow, I'm not going to -- or tomorrow, I'm not looking at it as, you know, this larger than any other regular-season game. Because somebody told me, you know, you prepare so the occasion rises to you, not that you have to rise to the occasion.
Every single day becomes monotonous or becomes almost, it's your routine, and you prepare for days like tomorrow. So it's no bigger than any other game. Yeah, is it bigger than any other -- of course it's bigger than other games. It's the post-season. However, when you look at it from the standpoint of preparation, you prepare and prepare and prepare, so when you get to these moments, it's the same as a regular-season game.
I mean, you hear it over and over again from other players. You know, take it as a regular-season game, just go out there, have fun and all that stuff. And it is.
I believe if you put in the time, put in the effort, get up when you don't want to get up, go to the gym when you don't want to go to the gym, all of the things that you don't want to do when you have to do them, that's what makes you successful. And that's what makes going into this moment or tomorrow into this occasion, you prepare for.
Q. You probably talked about this at length, your journey to this point, but part of it started when you were at Triple-A. What do you remember of that time and what you did that changed?
RICH HILL: Yeah, a great organization. Enjoyed the time that we had here in spring training, the guys here in spring training. Just the camaraderie that they had, the intensity of Max Scherzer, watching him prepare during spring training.
I'll talk about Syracuse. But the selflessness of a Tanner Roark -- this is going back to last year, how many games did he win in '14? 15, right? And he goes in the bullpen, and there were 29 other teams that said, we'll put him in the rotation.
But to have guys that will put their own accolades aside or, not so much careers, but they will sacrifice certain things for the team, that's what I saw there was a very good team environment.
And the same at Syracuse. It was a good group of guys. We had some older veteran guys that were on that team that weren't complaining about, well, I should be in the big leagues. You get kind of that mix when you're in Triple-A. But it was not so there, and that had a lot to do with the coaching staff. Those guys there were great.
Q. You mentioned getting a lot of suggestions about how to deal with the blisters. What were the strangest ones and which one are you most embarrassed to admit you tried?
RICH HILL: I mean, you know, you pee on it (laughter). You might as well try it, right. I was desperate to do anything at that time but I wanted to super glue it back. I wanted to go back out there that day against, I think -- who was that against? The Seattle Mariners maybe, or I can't even remember. It's a cloud, because when the blister happened, I was so frustrated.
But yeah, talking with Sandy Scully, actually, Vin Scully's wife, she said to try vinegar. And I said, Oh, okay. Well, you think vinegar, pickles, all that, pickle brine and all that.
So I did, I put my finger in the vinegar. And I saw her the next day, and I said, I did, I soaked my finger in the vinegar. I think that's great.
She goes, Oh, you've got to add water to it and then drink it.
So I was like, Oh, all right. Well, I haven't tried that one yet (laughter).
Yeah, there's been some obscure, I think some obscure things. But, again, the only thing is time, especially with the blister that I had. I wish I could show you a picture of it, but I think I did when I first came over. It was more of a wound than it was a blister.
Q. Dusty Baker was your manager in 2006 with the Chicago Cubs. What did you take from your experience playing for him and how did you change as a person and a pitcher since then?
RICH HILL: From him, he would always say, "Talk is cheap, so go out there and do it." I think that's something that you can hear in his interviews even here in Washington. He just wants to go out there and give everything that you've got. Your effort is judged only by yourself. And to go out there and give everything that you have every single time, that's all anybody can ever ask.
Yeah, he was extremely personable. He was very supportive, and that was something that I'll always remembered about him, being a manager.
Q. Going back to the stay-in-the-moment thing, you mentioned maybe a dozen times after the start in Miami, you were so close to baseball history that day; was there a moment where you thought about how close that was?
RICH HILL: Not afterwards. I guess I haven't got the question, did you think you had it, did you think you could do it, did you think it was going to be a perfect game, and the answer is yes. Especially after that seventh inning with the catch that Yasiel made and the way the ball was coming out of my hand that day; I did think of it in the seventh inning right before Dave had a tremendously difficult decision to make, which was, again, looking back at it, outside, it was the right decision to make.
We're here in this position to, he's in that position for the team, right, and I have to put personal accolades or any kind of personal games aside and look at it from the team's aspect.
But didn't really think about it too much, the last two, eighth and ninth inning. Of course, you want to go out there as a competitor and compete and finish the game, and whatever happens, happens.
But yeah, not after that day. I'm pretty good at putting stuff behind and moving forward.
Q. What did that decision tell you about Dave and what have you learned about him in two months playing for him?
RICH HILL: Obviously his first priority is with the team, and that's the way it should be. And you know, he's consistent every single day. He cares about the players. He cares about your family.
You know, I think that creates a great environment for cultivating winning. You know that there's a guy who is at the helm who is willing to do -- you know, be there for you in any situation, or anything; his door is always open policy. Very easy to talk to, and somebody who's been there. He's played the game at the highest level and he understands what it takes on a day-in and day-out basis to be successful.
Q. When you and the Nationals parted ways last year, can you take us through what was that like for and if envisioned pitching on a stage like this one tomorrow?
RICH HILL: Yeah, so from the beginning -- or from -- let me understand what you're trying to say.
Q. Take us through what it was like when you and the Nationals parted ways last June.
RICH HILL: So after, they let me go a week prior to. I told them I was going to take my release and they said, Well, we'll give you an extra week to find another job if you would like. I just didn't see it working out here in Washington. You know, players have outs in their contracts that are mutual to say, you know, if you would like to go somewhere else, if you think it would work out somewhere else, you've earned the right, so be it, best of luck both ways. So that had happened.
Would have liked to have seen it work out here, sure, no doubt, because of everything that was going on in spring training, like I had said before, just the guys on the team, it was made of a team, a team, a group of guys that everybody was pulling for each other.
And then from there, I was at home for about a month, and you know, working out with the American Legion team that I grew up playing for. You know, playing catch every day, working out. I threw a couple longer bullpens -- it wasn't until a couple of weeks that I was at home that I decided to start changing my arm angle and throwing over the top again.
And I felt strong. I was able to repeat, repeat, and be consistent with my release point. So I threw a few 75-pitch bullpens, and made the decision to go to Long Island and start again. And made two starts there, felt good. Body felt strong. Was able to repeat my delivery. Was able to have the ball come out of my hand the way that I wanted to for those two starts.
And I knew after I had those two starts that there was something that, given the opportunity, could possibly happen. I mean, I felt that good.
And then the Red Sox gave me the opportunity to start in Nantucket. I believe I made five starts in Nantucket and felt the same way I did in Long Island. Felt great, carried over, from the independent league into Triple-A and then got the opportunity to pitch in Boston.
And again, just carried over that same, stay-in-the-moment, pitch-to-pitch process of having the ball come out of my hand the way that I want it to. I knew that if I did that, and I know now, today, if I continue to do that, a percentage of the success are going to fall more in your favor than not.
And then from there, the off-season, I was very humbled by getting multiple opportunities to have Major League jobs to pitch for many teams and chose Oakland. Then from there, got a great opportunity with Oakland, and got traded here to L.A. and here we are.
Q. Dave said he's willing to stretch you out farther than he has to this point, but it's been about three months since you've thrown a hundred pitches in a game. Beyond the blister, are there any practical concerns?
RICH HILL: No.