Curveball, consistency come together for Hill

Dodgers' lefty struck out 10 in Minors game

Curveball, consistency come together for Hill

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dodgers lefty Rich Hill's outing Sunday came on a back field at Camelback Ranch against a team of Minor Leaguers, but it might as well have been at Dodger Stadium in the heat of a playoff race, as far as his mentality was concerned.

"For me, I keep it as simple as possible," Hill said. "It doesn't matter who's in the box, whether it's Miguel Cabrera or somebody No. 98 that you don't know."

Hill racked up 10 strikeouts in five scoreless innings of work, delivering 80 pitches. He allowed two hits and two walks. Often buckling the knees of the Minor Leaguers from the Brewers' organization with his curveball, Hill had all his stuff working, and working well.

In fact, the way he feels about his approach and his stuff right now has him in position to enter the season with his game at a better place than where it was last year as Opening Day approached.

"By the second or third outing of the season, everything was locked in," Hill said, referring to last season. "Now, I feel very close to that point where I was in the third or fourth outing of the season. I feel like I'm getting to where I need to be quicker than I did last year."

That's good news for the Dodgers, who acquired Hill from the A's last summer. He was very good for the Dodgers down the stretch, posting a 1.83 ERA in six starts with 39 strikeouts and just five walks.

It's only mid-March, but Hill says he is humming along toward a strong April.

"I was talking to Rick [Honeycutt, the Dodgers' pitching coach] on the way back, and said it's kind of like an engine, trying to get all the cylinders firing," Hill said. "Definitely today, we had that going, just much more consistency with the delivery, which leads to much more consistency with the conviction on every pitch."

John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.