FORT MYERS, Fla. (AP) — Boston Red Sox pitcher Rich Hill starts spring training with a heavy heart.
Hill reported to Boston’s camp on Thursday following the death of son Brooks, who was less than 2 months old when he died on Feb. 24.
“We had a son on Dec. 26 and he was born with multiple issues that we confronted and had to deal with,” Hill said.
“Unfortunately, he succumbed. He’s passed. He taught us a lot of things. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out,” he said.
Hill got to Fort Myers on Wednesday with wife Caitlin and 2-year-old son Brice. The pitcher is looking forward to baseball’s routine.
“My wife has been extremely strong,” he said. “We’re going to enjoy our time here and obviously make the most of the opportunity that’s here to play baseball.
“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. One-day-at-a-time approach, that’s where we’re at, to really enjoy every day,” he said.
An outpouring of support has helped him through the ordeal.
“Extended family, at Mass General, everybody there has been tremendous,” he said. “The doctors, the nurses, and everybody who cared for our son.”
A left-hander who turns 34 on Tuesday, Hill rejoined the Red Sox on Feb. 1 and is at spring training with a minor league contract. He was 2-0 with a 1.14 ERA in 40 appearances with the Red Sox from 2010-12.
Hill is 24-22 with a 4.74 ERA in nine big league seasons with the Chicago Cubs, Red Sox, Cleveland and Baltimore, making 70 starts and 111 relief appearances.
A native of Milton, Mass., who lives in South Boston, Hill said proximity to his family factored into his decision to sign with the Red Sox.
“Fortunately, had the opportunity to come back. The Red Sox have been tremendous through this whole part of our life,” he said. “They were absolutely fabulous. It was 100 percent support all the way.”
Hill was 1-2 with a 6.28 ERA in 63 appearances for the Indians last season. He is competing for a job with fellow lefties Craig Breslow, Drake Britton, Chris Capuano and Andrew Miller, who are all on the 40-man roster, and Jose Mijares, who also has a minor league contract.
“The opportunity is here for myself to make the most of it,” Hill said, “and go out there and do everything that I can on a daily basis to perform.”