FORT MYERS, Fla. — Lefthanded reliever Rich Hill arrived at Red Sox camp this morning to heartfelt hugs and words of support from teammates. His infant son, Brooks, passed away 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 as we were moving through the last couple of months at Mass General," Hill said. "Unfortunately, he succumbed. He's passed. He taught us a lot of things. Unfortunately things didn't work out."
The Hill family — Rich, Caitlin and 2-year-old Brice — landed in Florida on Wednesday night.
"My wife has been extremely strong," Hill said. "We're going to enjoy our time here and obviously make the most of the opportunity that's here to play baseball," said Hill, who turns 34 next week. "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."
Hill was with the Red Sox from 2010-12 and pitched well when healthy, posting a 1.14 ERA over 40 games and averaging 10.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Hill appeared in 63 games for Cleveland last season despite a 6.28 ERA.
Hill, a native of Milton, thanked the Red Sox for their support. One of the main reasons he signed a minor league contract with the organization was to remain close to his family.
"There was a strong correlation," he said. "Fortunately, had the opportunity to come back. The Red Sox have been tremendous through this whole part of our life. ... They were absolutely fabulous. It was 100 percent support all the way."
Hill said his family has had "tremendous support" from family and friends.
"Extended family, at Mass General. Everybody there has been tremendous. The doctors, the nurses and everybody who cared for our son," Hill said.
Hill is hopeful of finding a spot on the Red Sox roster.
"We'll see. I feel that the opportunity is here," he said. "The opportunity is here for myself to make the most of it and go out there and do everything that I can on a daily basis to perform."
The Red Sox have lefthanded relievers Craig Breslow and Andrew Miller on the 40-man roster along with starting pitcher prospect Drake Britton, who pitched in relief in the majors last season. Lefthanded reliever Jose Mijares is in camp on a minor league contract.