Q. How would you describe Jared Porter's role when he was with the Red Sox in getting you back signed with the Red Sox, and while you were away from organized ball for a while? And then how fun is it the fact that he's with the Cubs now and you're opposing him in this series?
RICH HILL: Jared's a great guy, incredible baseball mind. And it was funny, last year, so last year before I had signed to go to independent ball, Jared had actually come and watched me throw at my old high school field. And at the time I was throwing side arm, and this was about probably like a week into the time that I was at home, after leaving Washington. And he liked the way I was throwing the ball. He had actually suggested that I move to the right-hand side of the rubber, third base side of the rubber, so facing home would be the third base, right? Facing the outfield would be or the other way around. Left side -- so I moved to the right side, either way. That's where I had been for years when I started with the Cubs, and the only reason why I made the switch to the first base side of the rubber was because I was going to go out of the bullpen and become, for lack of a better term, lefty specialist.
And that was really -- moving over from the left-hand side of the rubber to the right-hand side of the rubber, I found that my strike percentage went extremely high. And it was high before, when I was starting with the Cubs, but -- so that was a big, that was a big change. And then so that kind of progressively changed into the next week starting to throw over the top and then saying, okay, let's go to Long Island, let's go to independent ball and start.
But that had a major influence on moving from one side of the rubber to the other, was completely changing a lot for the percentages of strikes with the fastball, with the breaking ball, with the changeup and other breaking balls. Did I miss anything there? No? Okay.
Q. If there is a Game 7, how would you feel pitching it at Wrigley Field? And I don't know if you can do this in 150 words or less, but how would you sum up what happened to you with the Cubs?
RICH HILL: I don't really look back too much. I'm very forward thinking and in the moment, as everybody knows. I've mentioned that multiple times. So the time here was great, when I look back on it. I was very fortunate to come up in an organization that is a larger market in this game. I enjoyed my time here. That's all I can say about that.
But as far as pitching tomorrow, that's what we want, and that's what I want, and we're looking forward to it.
Q. No impact that it's at the park where you started?
RICH HILL: No, my perspective is this: That whether you're playing in a back field in Spring Training in Arizona, Florida, wherever it might be, your effort doesn't change, your intensity doesn't change. Nobody was here in this room when I was throwing a simulated game in Arizona this year, but the pitching coach down in Arizona had asked me, is this how you are always? So is this how your body language is and everything? So I didn't change anything, no matter what. There was nobody in the stands. I think there was one or two scouts in the stands that came to watch me throw. But, again, regardless of the environment, regardless of the weather, regardless of anything, it's always the best situation that you can have, and you have to have that mindset going into any opportunity to pitch, and that's how I think.
Q. You mentioned being in independent ball. What did you take out of that ultimately when you look back at and all the stuff that happened afterward? What did you take out of that short time there?
RICH HILL: Just being around the guys that were there. Their passion and their love for the game. They went out there every single day and came in without any trainers, really, without any fluff, if you want to call it, all the extra kind of benefits that you would get to being a Major League player and/or a professional player, for that matter, even Double-A, Triple-A, low A. It's just going out there on a daily basis and doing everything that you can to be ready to pitch. That was really the biggest thing that I took from there is getting into a routine that I had, but it really reinforced that, that it's up to you to go out there and do the best that you can. Everybody's going to have an opinion, but the only opinion that matters is yours at the end of the day, because you know that you gave everything that you could every single time that you go out there to pitch. And that's as simple as I can put it.
Q. Joe Maddon was just in here talking about the angst that he picks up every time he talks to Cubs fans. And I'm wondering if you picked up on any of that and what in your opinion makes Cubs fans different from the fans of other teams that you've pitched for.
RICH HILL: When I think about other fans that you could compare, if we're comparing fans, everybody's loyal. Everybody has their loyal base, right? But I think also here in Chicago it's a -- it's been that -- obviously, a long drought of having a World Series championship. So I think that's something that comes along with that sense of urgency.
And every year it's a sense urgency. That's the way it should be with every club. Every single day you go out there, you should have this sense of urgency in anything that you do. You want to make the most of your time that you have. We all have the same clock every single day. Nobody gets any more time, nobody gets any less time. Just all depends on how you want to utilize that time and be as useful in that time that we have.
But with the fans, I think that when I think back to Boston, they have very passionate, dedicated fans. Here in Chicago they have very passionate, dedicated fans. L.A. It's everywhere. But, yeah, sure, here in Chicago, there's, obviously, that something that hasn't happened in a long time.
Q. Was there anything unexpected about pitching in a winner-take-all game in the NLDS or anything from that specific game you could apply to what might happen tomorrow?
RICH HILL: No, again, it's really staying in the moment and keeping that pitch-to-pitch process. There's no -- there's really no looking ahead or looking behind. It's executing one pitch at a time. And in that Game 5, that's what I did. In the Game 3, that's what I did. And every single game that I've pitched this year, that's exactly the mindset that I've had. So you've always been preparing for -- I've been preparing for this situation. And, again, as somebody once told me that the occasional rise to, you don't have to rise to the occasion. Because of the preparation, because of the work that you've put in. And I think that's -- it is -- that's what it is.
Q. Fully realizing how crazy this question sounds, how surprised or not would you be if Clayton says he's available to pitch in relief of you tomorrow night?
RICH HILL: I wouldn't be surprised at all. I'm sure he's -- take care of what he needs to take care of tonight and worry about tomorrow when that comes around. But that, yeah, that would not surprise me.
Q. I imagine that pitching in the seventh game of a series is a dream come true since what age for any pitcher. Have you thought about that experience, how it would work for you, and when do you start thinking about, hey, I hope some day I will pitch in a Game 7?
RICH HILL: Sure, looking forward to tomorrow, and is, again, something that you've prepared for. So the bottom line is that when everything is over and you can look back, is that you've given everything that you can to be as successful as you could. And regardless of the outcome, it's about the process. It's about how we're going to get to that end result. And little by little, just like going to the gym every single day, at first it's tough to get going, and there are days that you're not going to want to go, but I believe that doing little things is what makes people successful. Going to the gym on the days that you don't want to go. I'm just using this as a comparison.
But, so for tomorrow, that's what I've been preparing for for my whole career, and, if anything, you look at it and embrace the opportunity and go all out.