I had a few difficult starts in May, but in some ways it was good to test my ability to correct myself early in the season. It's difficult when things aren't going your way, but the adversity provides an opportunity to learn some more about digging yourself out of trouble.
Having the ability to find your way back to consistency is important because everyone goes into a rut once in a while.
For me, it was going back out there and getting back into the mind-set of attacking the hitter and staying aggressive. I wasn't as aggressive as I would have liked to have been in some of my outings last month. It was a matter of keeping things simple again and not thinking too much.
By keeping it simple, I mean not having too much of a thought process out there and just focusing on the next pitch. You want to stay on that path, as opposed to letting too many thoughts sink into your head, which end up complicating matters.
I like to re-read a few books whose techniques I've employed over the years. One of them is "Thinking Body, Dancing Mind," which helps me keep my thought process simple. More than anything, the books help reaffirm the beliefs that I had before.
Keeping my thought process streamlined and consistent is a constant battle. It's never been something that comes to me very easily. When things are going really well, though, the thought process is simplified. When things aren't falling into place, you start thinking too much and bad things happen.
So I just focus on that one pitch. You want to think to yourself that you're going to execute whatever pitch you're throwing. If it's a fastball down and away, I'm blocking out everything except trying to make that pitch to the best of my ability. It's the only thing you can control, and you have to get comfortable with that fact.
Whatever else happens, you can't control it. You can only control what you have in your power at that moment. As soon as the ball leaves your hand, it's out of your control again. The only thing you can control consistently is making a good pitch, so that's where your focus has to be.
I hit a little bump in the road for a few starts, but you have to be prepared for that. The main thing is trying to minimize the bump on the way down because you want to stay on top for as long as you can. When you feel yourself going in the opposite direction, you have to pick yourself up and get back on track.
I've been through a lot of challenges in my career and there will be more to come. I like talking to kids about having a positive approach. The earlier you can grasp positive beliefs and positive thinking, the better. A positive mind-set helps.
Despite three consecutive rough outings in May, Rich Hill has an NL-low WHIP of 0.98 and has held opponents to a league-low .189 batting average. A 27-year-old left-hander who features a sharp curveball, Hill is 5-4 with a 2.71 ERA.
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