Hill called up, put in starting rotation

Hill called up, slotted in starting rotation

CHICAGO -- Glendon Rusch is out, Rich Hill is in.

The Cubs called up Hill from Triple-A Iowa on Monday and inserted him into the starting rotation, while Rusch was assigned to the bullpen. Right-hander David Aardsma was optioned to Iowa to make room for Hill on the roster.

The Cubs will have three rookies -- Hill, Sean Marshall and Angel Guzman -- in the rotation. The last time that happened was Aug. 6-21, 2002, with Steve Smyth, Carlos Zambrano and Mark Prior getting three complete turns through the rotation. Prior and Zambrano were in the rotation before Smyth made his debut on Aug. 6. The last time three rookies started consecutive games was Zambrano, Prior and Smyth, Aug. 20-22, 2002.

"Everybody was a rookie at some time," Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. "They've all had starts now; they all know what it's about."

Baker couldn't recall the last time he had three freshmen in his rotation, saying it might have been 1995 or '96 in San Francisco.

"The rookies I have now are much better and more advanced than I had then," he said.

Hill was 1-0 with a 1.44 ERA in four starts for Iowa, giving up four earned runs in 25 innings and striking out 33. He will start Thursday at Arizona. Hill appeared in 10 games with the big-league club last year, including four starts.

"It feels just like anything else," Hill said about being back in the Major Leagues. "You get that initial rush out of the way -- a new job or whatever it might be. It feels like the second time around is nothing new."

Hill said being reunited with pitching coach Alan Dunn, who was at Iowa, certainly helped.

"He saw some things in Spring Training that I changed in the offseason and didn't stick to what I was doing last year when I had a lot of success," Hill said. "Working him this past month in Iowa has helped a lot."

What kind of things?

"Tempo-wise, I was really fast in Spring Training," Hill said. "I was trying to rush everything and everything was going 100 miles an hour. There were things I got away from, and they weren't really in my repertoire. He helped me get back to that and get back on track."

The switch to a better tempo and rhythm showed in better results.

"If you execute down there, you execute here, you execute in Little League, anywhere, you're going to have success," Hill said. "I'm not comparing the big leagues to Little League, but execution-wise, you're going to have success."

Having three rookies in the rotation says a lot for the Cubs' Minor League system.

"Each one of us has come up through the system," Hill said. "It's a lot of credit to the pitching coaches and each and every other coach who has taken time for us in the Minor Leagues. It's just as big for them to see us come up here and be at this level."

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