Rich Hill has reached the point in his career where he is secure in his abilities and his opinions.
It's why despite coming off an offseason procedure in his left elbow he is fully confident the upcoming 60-game regular season will be a positive one, particularly after just executing a six-inning, 90-pitch simulated game in preparation for Spring Training 2.0.
"I feel a little ahead of the curve when it comes to being ready to jump into the season," Hill said Tuesday night on WEEI.
He is also firm in his belief about the validity of what awaits the champion of the shortened season. Why? Because, as he points out, it can't be any more tarnished than the 2017 championship Hill and his Dodgers had taken away from them by an Astros team that was found to be cheating.
"We can look back to a couple of years ago, was that a World Series? Honestly. I was there. The more you hear about it … Whatever. It is what it is," Hill told co-hosts Rob Bradford and Brian Barrett. "What I’m saying if we’re going to compare that, if we’re going to compare this 60-game season and say it’s not a championship season, well, OK. I have a different feeling about that."
It is a sentiment that is clearly shared by Hill's former teammates with the Dodgers, a message that the pitcher confirmed was spread throughout text chains when the Astros ruling went down.
"We were a very tight-knit group," he said. "Some of the best players and guys I’ve ever been around. Absolutely. It’s not something I want to harp on. I brought it up because it was to the case and point of the 60-game season not being a championship season, and I fully, 100 percent think it is. I’m looking forward to having a great year."
As for what lays ahead for Hill, the 40-year-old is clearly optimistic that the Twins team he signed an incentive-laden one-year contract with will be in a position to compete for the aforementioned World Series title. It's a notion that has only been reaffirmed in recent days after reuniting with his teammates in Minnesota.
But Hill does also admit there was a time during the coronavirus-induced hiatus that he contemplated not making the trip from his home in Massachusetts to Minneapolis when the season kicked off.
"Everybody has their reason and it’s absolutely valid. I’m definitely with those guys," he said of the recent news that players such as Ian Desmond and Ryan Zimmerman have chosen not to play in 2020. "I will be totally honest with you, at the beginning of this when everything was really, really hot in Massachusetts as far as the virus I was considering possibly not even coming here. I just felt like, wow, this is something that could be totally difficult to deal with and maybe not the smartest move. But as things showed in a positive light and started to get better it gave me a better attitude about coming back out here."