As her husband Rich stepped into the batter’s box, Caitlin Hill lifted her iPhone, centered the camera and pressed record. She was sitting a dozen rows behind Citi Field’s home plate last weekend with their 5-year-old son, Brice. Caitlin joked to Brice that they might see history: Rich’s first home run. Instead the video memorialized his alter ego, a man one of his Dodgers teammates dubbed “Psycho Rich.”
When Mets pitcher Seth Lugo fired a 93 mph fastball, Hill lunged to bunt. He whiffed, whirled around and unleashed a one-word expletive into the summer afternoon air. The noise perked up Brice’s ears.
“Daddy! Why did you yell?” Brice said. He turned to his mother. “Why is Daddy yelling?” Caitlin could only laugh. Over the past two seasons as a Dodger, Hill has earned acclaim for his creativity and his daring, his willingness to improvise within games, shifting the angle of his arm and toggling the shape of his curveball. His artistry as a pitcher may be matched only by his ability to express himself in colorful language.
Mild-mannered away from the diamond, Hill transforms into a snarling, swearing brute on the mound. Sweat pours down his face. He skips after his delivery and stomps toward the plate. Expletives escape his mouth in inventive fashion. His teammates giggle at the sight. The stories they tell are mostly unprintable, tales of Hill chastising himself on the diamond, on the bench, in the tunnel leading to the clubhouse. “I think it’s funnier when he’s on the mound than when he comes into the dugout,” utility man Enrique Hernandez said. “When he comes into the dugout, it’s kind of scary.”
Hill survived a different sort of scare in Friday’s 4-3 loss to San Diego. A 92 mph fastball from Padres pitcher connected with his Adam’s apple while he was trying to bunt.
Hill looked stricken when he fell to the ground, but stayed in the game. He finished with nine strikeouts in six innings of two-run baseball, and left in line for a victory. The lead disappeared when Ross Stripling surrendered home runs in the seventh and eighth. Hill was taken to a hospital for tests after the game. Manager Dave Roberts described the visit as “precautionary.”