Rich Hill shaky in spring debut as A's tie Brewers 8-8
MESA, Ariz. (AP) Rich Hill allowed five of the eight batters he faced to reach base in his spring training debut before the Oakland Athletics blew a five-run lead in an 8-8 draw with the Milwaukee Brewers on Saturday.
The A's led 7-2 before Andy Wilkins hit a three-run homer and Alex Presley a solo shot in the eighth for Milwaukee, and Yadiel Rivera hit a go-ahead two-run homer off Dylan Covey with two outs in the ninth.
Josh Phegley tied the game with a solo shot off Hiram Burgos with two outs in the bottom half.
Hill, one of the more intriguing reclamation projects of spring training, managed to escape the first inning without surrendering a run - despite allowing a double and three walks. But a triple by Rymer Liriano and Colin Walsh's RBI groundout in the second ended his day.
''I felt really good. The results obviously were not very good,'' said the 35-year-old Hill, who was with the independent Long Island Ducks last summer before signing a minor league deal with the Red Sox.
Hill was promoted to Boston in September and dominated in four starts, even throwing a shutout against the Orioles. That was enough to earn him a $6 million, one-year deal with Oakland and a spot in its rotation.
The last time the left-hander went to spring training assured of a starting job was in 2007 with the Cubs.
Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson allowed only a walk to Jake Smolinski over two shutout innings. The big right-hander got a bit of help from first baseman Chris Carter, who leaned over the tarp down the right-field line to make a slick catch of Danny Valencia's pop foul.
''They played really well behind me,'' Nelson said of his defense. ''Carter made some really great plays.''
Brewers: Nelson spent last season working on his curveball at the expense of his changeup, so that's been his priority this spring. ''It was a little off,'' he said, ''but it had the action I wanted.''
Athletics: While Hill struggled, Liam Hendriks shined. The reliever, also assured of a spot on the roster, allowed only a double to Jonathan Lucroy in a sharp inning of work. ''Other times I've had to perform well and do this and this and this to make the team,'' Hendriks said. ''Now I feel like I can work on some things and as long as I don't get crushed out of the park I'm going to be OK.''
Brewers: 2B Scooter Gennett (right shoulder strain) and OF Brett Phillips (oblique strain) remain sidelined, though manager Craig Counsell acknowledged taking a conservative approach with them.
Athletics: 1B Mark Canha (back) played light catch Saturday and hopes to play in games next week.
The 24-year-old Liriano, once a heralded Padres prospect, also doubled and drove in a run. He was picked up by Milwaukee in a January trade, but must make the team out of spring training or clear waivers to return the minors. The strapping outfielder is out of options.
The Brewers signed left-hander Franklin Morales to a minor league contract that included an invitation to big league camp. Morales spent last season with the World Series champion Royals, going 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 67 appearances. He has also pitched parts of nine seasons with the Rockies and Red Sox.
There was a moment of silence before the game for Dave Henderson, who died in December, and Tony Phillips, who died last month. Both were members of the A's 1989 World Series championship team.
Brewers: RHP Matt Garza makes his spring training debut against the Indians in Maryvale.
Athletics: RHP Chris Bassitt, trying to earn a rotation job, starts against the Padres in Peoria.