When the Boston Red Sox perused the free-agent market for pitching this past offseason, Rich Hill believed he'd be a perfect fit.
The 41-year-old southpaw is familiar with Boston as he played there from 2010-12 and in 2015. Prior to signing with the Tampa Bay Rays, Hill expected to have a third stint with the Red Sox.
"Oh, yeah. Very much so," Hill told WEEI.com when asked if he believed he'd land in Boston. "But then there was no movement and as a player, or anybody waiting for an opportunity, you can’t wait around. I honestly thought talking to the front office, talking with the training staff and everything like that I really thought that was going to be an opportunity. Especially being home.
"Look, being 41 and I wanted to stay on the East Coast and I wanted to be close to home, all of which were the primary objective. There was no better place than Boston."
Hill, who hails from Canton, Mass., says he and the Red Sox discussed the possibility of a deal throughout the winter. The talks even continued after Boston re-signed left-hander Martin Perez in January.
When the rotation was finalized in early February with the signing of Garrett Richards, Hill was forced to move on. He signed with the Rays on a one-year, $2.5 million deal shortly thereafter.
"They were still in talks saying there was a real opportunity (in Boston)," Hill recalled. "I talked with Alex (Cora) and he expressed his interest in wanting me to come and sign there. To me it was very real. I think to him it was very real. There’s only so much in your court you can control so you just kind of go with what you hear.
"Obviously, having the relationship with Kevin (Cash) and knowing what the Rays have been able to do here in the last decade and a half with the success they have had is not by accident. You come in here and you see how they operate."
Hill is 5-2 with a 3.64 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 14 starts with Tampa Bay this year. The 17-year veteran will get the start in Wednesday night's matchup vs. Boston, with first pitch set for 7:10 p.m. ET at Tropicana Field.