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Rich Hill faces Tigers to open third stint with Red Sox

Sportsnaut
Apr 11, 2022; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Detroit Tigers shortstop Javier Baez (28) hits a two run home run during the eighth inning against the Boston Red Sox at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Boston Red Sox, who are off to a 1-3 start to the season, will turn to an old familiar face to get them pointed in the right direction.

Journeyman left-hander Rich Hill will get the starting assignment on the road against the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday afternoon. Hill is in his third stint with the franchise — he pitched for Boston from 2010-12 as a reliever and in a four-game stint as a starter in 2015.

Hill made a combined 32 appearances (31 starts) with the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Mets last season and finished with a 7-8 record and 3.86 ERA. He rejoined the Red Sox on a one-year, $5 million contract.

The 42-year-old veteran is grateful to still be in the majors.

“The goal is a championship at the end of the year and that’s it,” Hill said during spring training. “However anybody can contribute, however big or however small the role is, it’s important. To have that mindset, first of all, put the team before yourself, is what it’s all about.

“Whatever role it is they decide to put me in, I’m here to pitch, that’s it, and help the younger guys.”

Hill has made 17 career appearances against the Tigers, including four starts, posting a 3-0 record and a 3.74 ERA.

He will be opposed by another left-hander, Tyler Alexander. Entering his fourth season, Alexander appeared in 41 games last season, including 15 starts, going 2-4 with a 3.81 ERA.

Alexander is filling in for Michael Pineda, who was signed as a free agent late in spring training. Pineda is building up his arm strength at Triple-A Toledo. Alexander has made two career relief appearances against Boston, allowing four runs (three earned) in four innings.

Alexander, 27, knew when Pineda was added he would be ticketed for the bullpen.

“I’ve been in that spot before: long relief, spot start here and there,” he said. “I’m sure there will be spots throughout the year where I’ll get opportunities to start.”

Alexander prefers being a starter but will accept whatever role he’s given.

“I kind of enjoy the (diversity) of it,” Alexander said. “It’s kind of been my role the past two years, just throw when we need you. I don’t really care. I like to be in the big leagues, no matter where I’m at. I want to be a starter. I’ll get my opportunities to start, and I’ve just got to take advantage of it when I get it.”

Detroit won the series opener 3-1 on Monday as shortstop Javier Baez hit his first homer since joining the Tigers as a free agent during the offseason. He ripped a high fastball from reliever Ryan Brasier over the left field wall to snap a 1-1 tie in the eighth inning.

“So many pitchers have tried to go higher than high (in the strike zone) and there’s some swing and miss in the past. There’s also a ton of damage as well,” manager A.J. Hinch said of Baez. “So, risk-reward when you go up there with Javy and you try to exploit something multiple times in a row. Javy got ’em today.”

The Red Sox hope to have second baseman Trevor Story back in action. He missed the past two games due to an illness and rejoined the team from New York after the Monday game.

“We’ll know more obviously when he gets here but hopefully, he can be ready to go (Tuesday),” Boston manager Alex Cora said.

–Field Level Media