Orioles keeping close eye on Hill

Orioles keeping close eye on Hill

BALTIMORE -- All eyes were on Rich Hill on Sunday, when he started for Triple-A Norfolk in a rehab stint. Hill has been suffering from a strained left elbow, but Orioles manager Dave Trembley said that Hill could rejoin the team soon if he demonstrates he's ready on Sunday.

"It's an interesting day for him and for us," said Trembley. "I'm sure with tomorrow being an off-day, there will be a lot of discussion about his status and whether to continue his rehab, or see if he's ready to come up here. I think we need to get through today first and see whether he's fine and still able to throw in between starts."

Hill, who was acquired from the Cubs in the hope that he'd flesh out a rotation slot, has been affected by his elbow since early in Spring Training. The southpaw was sidelined for most of the Grapefruit League season and has been slowly working his way back with a trio of starts split between Norfolk and Class A Frederick.

In some respects, the extra scrutiny may have paid off. Hill threw six shutout innings against Triple-A Durham on Sunday, striking out seven batters against just three walks. That kind of dominance presents a dilemma. The Orioles can let him make another rehab start or two or can dip down and promote him immediately.

Hill's healthy return would likely mean that Mark Hendrickson would be moved back to a long relief role. That would give the Orioles three southpaws -- Hendrickson, Jamie Walker and George Sherrill -- in the bullpen.

Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.