In a very Cub-like move, the Indians have signed former Cub Rich Hill to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Hill underwent Tommy John surgery in June of 2011.
Boston, however, deserves credit for saving Hill’s once promising career as a starter. The Red Sox lowered his arm angle and transitioned him to a full-time reliever in 2010. *(Hill did pitch some relief innings at Triple-A with St. Louis, but never reached the majors)
During the past three seasons, all with Boston, Hill is (2-0, 1.14 ERA) in 40 games–including 25 games last season after recovering from TJS.
Despite a solid season with the Cubs in 2007, in which Hill made 32 starts, pitched 195.0 innings and won 11 games, he lost the confidence of Sweet Lou the following season by walking 18 batters in 19.2 innings of his first five starts. The Cubs subsequently optioned Hill to Triple-A Iowa, where he finished out the ‘08 season, and his career with the Cubs.
Baltimore took a flyer by purchasing Hill from Chicago in Feb. 2009. But the southpaw pitched even worse with the Orioles, winning just three games in 13 starts while posting a 7.80 ERA. Then Boston came calling, made a few alterations and wound up with a decent bullpen arm.
It’s a bit surprising Boston let the 32-year-old go, which could now prove a big steal for Cleveland, if, in fact, Hill has fully recovered from his elbow injury. And that’s exactly what the Cubs are hoping for with recent Tommy John Club members Scott Baker, Arodys Vizcaino and Chang-yong Lim.
- Chang-yong Lim
- Hector Rondon
- Marcos Mateo
- Arodys Vizcaino
- Robert Whitenack
- Scott Baker
- Rafael Dolis
- Scott Feldman
Eight. That’s the current number of Cubs’ pitchers on its 40-man roster who’ve undergone Tommy John surgery during their careers.
It’s far from an official count. But it’s the best list I could manage after scouring Google searches and player bios. If I missed a player, give me a shout and I’ll update the list accordingly (I already had to update it once!).
It wouldn’t surprise me if a pitcher did slip my radar. Finding a complete list of the major leaguers who’ve undergone TJS was more challenging than I anticipated.
You’d think as commonplace as the surgery has become in baseball there would be a TJS listing readily available aside from the two I found here & here.
Both sites provide a very good listing, but are self admittedly incomplete. So, if you’re aware of a Tommy John register that I haven’t mentioned please feel free to share with us in the comment section below.
As for the Cubs’ love affair with the recovering TJS survivors, it’s fair to assume this number will grow as it did on Wednesday with the signing of Chang-Yong Lim, a 36-year-old side arm reliever from Japan, to a 2-year, $5M deal. His recovery from Tommy John surgery is likely to keep him out the entire 2013 season.
With roughly 60-days before spring training I’d bet we’ll see Team Theo sign at least one, if not two, Tommy John add-ons before the end of winter.
It’s hard to fault the Cubs’ approach in becoming a TJS shelter. The pitchers need an opportunity and the Cubs need affordability. If it doesn’t work out, no big deal. It’s little more than low-risk, high-upside on the Cubs’ end, which fits the early stages of the rebuild quite comfortably.