SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- That sigh of relief you heard was from Rich Hill.
The Cubs left-hander struck out six and gave up two runs, five hits and one walk over five innings Tuesday against the San Francisco Giants. Hill has reworked his delivery over the last four days in an attempt to simplify things.
"We've been working hard," Hill said. "It's a continual process to get the progress we want to see. At points, it was fun to go out there and compete the entire time. I'm not saying I wasn't competing before, but [today] I was competing and throwing strikes and being aggressive and taking that mindset out there. It's letting the ball come out of your hand the way you want it to, as many times as you can."
Hill, who was 11-8 with a 3.92 ERA last season, his first full year in the big leagues, liked his mechanics before, but wasn't getting the job done. Now, he feels his delivery is simple and clean.
"Everything is direct to the plate," Hill said. "People say you have to work over the rubber and not drift, and I was pleased with it. The main point is, to continue to go out there and stay aggressive. The stuff's there -- the stuff's not the issue."
Cubs manager Lou Piniella told Hill just that, when he talked to the left-hander after his last start, to reassure him that he had a spot in the rotation.
"Everybody's been great," Hill said. "I haven't been throwing the ball that great in Spring Training -- I've been throwing pretty terribly. It's been unbelievable -- to have 24 guys behind you and even more than that, with all the guys in Spring Training and the management and coaching staff, it's a real nice thing."
Hill wasn't sure if he will go to Las Vegas for the final two exhibition games on Friday and Saturday. He is fourth in the rotation, and scheduled to start the Cubs' series opener against the Houston Astros on April 4. He could throw in Arizona on Sunday to take advantage of the nice weather.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.