According to sources, left-hander Rich Hill has re-signed with the Red Sox, agreeing to a minor league deal for the 2012 season. Hill, 31, has made 15 scoreless appearances in the big leagues for the Sox in 2010 and 2011. However, his extremely promising start to the 2011 season was derailed when he tore his ulnar collateral ligament and required season-ending Tommy John surgery in June. The agreement was first reported by John Tomase of the Boston Herald.
Sources indicated that if called up by the Red Sox, Hill will earn a prorated $725,000.
Hill told WEEI.com earlier in December that he was progressing well in his rehab, and even thought that he might be ready to return by Opening Day.
“I’m trying to get as strong as I can for the start of the season. It wouldn’t surprise me if I was ready by April 5. However, I’m not 100 percent sure how the rest of the program will go,” said Hill, who lives in South Boston and has been working out in Woburn and at Fenway with Sox trainer Mike Reinold. “Health-wise, I couldn’t feel any better. I’m out to 120 feet, throwing the ball on a line.
“The elbow feels great. Everyday that I’ve gone out and thrown, it feels like it continuously gets stronger and stronger. I don’t know how much further I can gauge it and feel any better than I feel right now.”
At that time, the left-hander was hoping that if the Sox non-tendered him (thus making him a free agent), he would be able to find a major league deal. However, with that evidently having failed to materialize, Hill opted to remain with the organization with whom he had begun to reshape his career as a sidearming left-handed specialist.
"I’ll come back and be a guy who’s a premier left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen in the big leagues," Hill said on the day he was non-tendered. "It’s been proven over time that multiple pitchers who have had Tommy John surgery have come back better than they did before they had it."
Now, it appears that the year-round Boston resident will do so close to home.
Hill's minor league deal could increase the likelihood that the Sox will be in position to deal one of their out-of-options left-handed pitchers before the start of the season. Left-handed relievers Andrew Miller, Felix Doubront and Franklin Morales as well as right-hander's Scott Atchison and Michael Bowden are all pitchers who are out of options; with the lefties in particular, if Hill shows that he will be in position to help the Sox sometime in early 2012, the team would appear to be operating with something of a surplus.
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