Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill is pulling for Michigan in Final Four

Rich Hill had three caps in his locker Monday, all blue.

The Dodgers’ batting practice cap had the cursive “D.” The game cap had the interlocking “LA.” The third cap had the maize “M.”

Hill is 16 years removed from his last season at the University of Michigan, when he started 13 games and completed eight. He remains an ardent Michigan fan, so devoted he knew the school’s hockey team as well as its basketball team is in the Final Four.

Of course, he picked his Wolverines to win the basketball tournament. He also picked Villanova to reach the championship game.

Villanova also advanced to the Final Four, so Hill might well have won the Dodgers’ March Madness pool had he not completed his bracket half an hour too late.

“I don’t care about the money,” Hill said. “I care about Michigan winning.”


In a national semifinal Saturday, Michigan plays 11th-seeded Loyola Chicago. No team with a lower seed has reached the Final Four.

“What they’ve been able to do is amazing too,” Hill said. “If it happens to not work out for Michigan, I hope they win the whole thing. That would be an incredible story, obviously.”

America has fallen in love with Loyola, and with Sister Jean, its 98-year-old chaplain and cheerleader. Hill had no trouble explaining what it might be like when you are rooting for your team and everyone else in the country is rooting for the other team.

“It’s probably what it’s like to be a [New England] Patriots fan,” he said.

Streaming blackout

The Dodgers television blackout enters its fifth season, with the team’s telecasts unavailable to fans that get their cable or satellite service from any provider besides Spectrum.

But Spectrum subscribers must deal with a blackout of their own. The Dodgers’ team-owned SportsNet LA channel is one of two regional sports networks that do not offer streaming to subscribers wishing to watch their major league team on a computer or smartphone. (MASN, which carries the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, is the other.)

As fans watch more games and other programming on the go, Major League Baseball considers such streaming crucial in maintaining the model in which cable companies pay billions of dollars for broadcast rights.

“It is important to our economics, and we will continue to be supportive,” Commissioner Rob Manfred told The Times last year. “That means things like getting off the dime in in-market streaming. We see this as an adjunct to the cable model that makes it more appealing to cable customers.”

Spectrum spokeswoman Stacey Mitch said the company had “no update to report” about when SportsNet LA might add a streaming option and declined comment as to why the company had not made it available. Dodgers spokesman Steve Brener did not respond to a request for comment.

Relief roulette

The Dodgers plan to start the season with eight relievers, but manager Dave Roberts said he could not identify which ones might pitch the eighth inning.

“Right now, no,” Roberts said.

The Dodgers are not concerned about opening without a designated bridge to closer Kenley Jansen.

In 2016, Joe Blanton started the season as a middle reliever and ended the season as the most trusted setup man. In 2017, Brandon Morrow started the season in the minor leagues and ended as their most trusted setup man.

Short hops

The Dodgers announced that John Legend would headline their annual charity gala at Dodger Stadium on June 11. Proceeds from the gala help the Dodgers’ foundation provide opportunities for Southern California youth to play baseball and softball. Legend, a 10-time Grammy winner, played at outfielder Joc Pederson’s winter wedding. … Roberts said third baseman Justin Turner (wrist) and pitcher Tom Koehler (shoulder) would remain with the team through the weekend, then report to the team’s Arizona training complex to continue rehabilitation. Roberts said the Dodgers did not anticipate putting Turner on the 60-day disabled list, so they expect him back before the end of May.

Follow Bill Shaikin on Twitter @BillShaikin