Returning to normalcy won't be easy, but pitcher Rich Hill took the first step toward doing so on Wednesday when he reported to Boston Red Sox spring training following the death of his infant son.
According to ESPNBoston.com, Hill made the news public on Thursday that his son, Brooks, had tragically passed away.
We had a son on Dec. 26, and he was born with multiple issues that we confronted and had to deal with as we were moving through the last couple of months at Mass General. Unfortunately he succumbed and he has passed. He taught us a lot of things, and unfortunately things didn't work out.
Since news of his son's passing first broke, there has been an outpouring of support for Hill and his family through social media.
Legendary Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling was among the first to offer his condolences on Twitter:
Thoughts and prayers to Sox hurler Rich Hill and family.— Curt Schilling (@gehrig38) March 6, 2014
Tom Withers of the Associated Press followed suit and offered a glowing endorsement of Hill as a person:
T.J. Zuppe, who covered Hill and the Cleveland Indians on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland last season, had some kind words for Hill as well.
Hill, who pitched for the Indians in 2013, signed a minor league contract with the Red Sox this offseason. The 33-year-old lefty specialist spent parts of the 2010, 2011 and 2012 campaigns with Boston and is hoping to earn a spot on the roster.
Per ESPNBoston.com, Hill believes that he has a great chance to make an impact in Fort Myers, Fla. and is hopeful that it will lead to a spot on the Opening Day roster.
Excited to be here, to be playing baseball again and get back into the normalcy of my profession and to be around a great group of guys and to just take that next step ... I fully feel that the opportunity is here. I think that was also with a blend of the opportunity that is here and obviously with our family situation that we had. With the opportunity that is here, (I want) to make the most of it and do everything I can on a daily basis to perform.
Hill certainly has an uphill climb as he grieves the untimely death of his son. He is also coming off a difficult 2013 season that saw him post a 6.28 ERA in 63 appearances with the Tribe.
Perhaps his confidence and form will return now that he is back with the Red Sox. Hill only pitched 31.2 innings over three seasons with Boston, but he was hugely successful with an ERA of 1.14 and well over one strikeout per inning.
Most importantly, though, Hill feels like the time he and his family spend together in Fort Myers will be special in the wake of tragedy.
My wife has been extremely strong. Our son, who is 2 1/2, is with us here down in Florida, so we are going to enjoy our time here and obviously make the most of the opportunity that's here to present itself to play baseball.
Baseball is just a game in the grand scheme of things, but it obviously means a lot to Hill. Hopefully, some success on the pitcher's mound can aid in the grieving process to some degree.
Quality left-handed relievers are always in high demand, so Hill realizes that all he has to do during spring training is go out and execute his pitches.
If he does that, then look for Hill to be a part of Boston's bullpen in 2014. That would certainly be a happy conclusion to what has been a tough offseason for Hill and his family.
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