OAKLAND -- Considering some of the other injuries that Rich Hill has been forced to deal with in his career, this strained flexor in his left elbow that kept him away from the Red Sox for the last 11 weeks was just a minor annoyance.
Hill's competitive fire has helped him bounce back repeatedly. His latest comeback will occur on Saturday, when the expansion of rosters will allow the Red Sox to officially activate him from the disabled list.
"I mean, obviously it was just a bump in the road looking back on it but you want to be back out there competing, getting after it. I'm looking forward to pitching," said Hill.
For Hill, the one thing that ticked him off about his most recent injury is that he had just come all the way back from Tommy John ligament transfer surgery, stepping back on the mound for Boston less than 11 months from the day he underwent the procedure.
"With all the work that you put in in the offseason and all the work that comes into coming back and having obviously a setback like this, it is frustrating, no doubt about it," Hill said. "You see how far and how hard you worked to come back and then have something happen is just part of the game, I guess."
Interestingly, Hill feels that longevity can actually be something he carves out as a niche.
Though he is no longer on the path to be a front-line starting pitcher, as was once the case with the Cubs, Hill could last for several years in his current role as a lefty specialist. He has both a rebuilt shoulder and elbow.
"[Like] Darren Oliver. I want to," Hill said. "That's what I want to do. I want to pitch for a long time. That would be great. The more you can keep yourself in shape and stay competitive and work hard in the offseason and put the time in in the weight room with your throwing program, and like I was saying, be smart about it, the better. You can maintain your body and stay around for a long time."
The Milton, Mass., native would love to keep pitching for the Red Sox, the franchise he has been with since 2010.
Hill hasn't heard from the Red Sox yet about a new deal, but it's not hard to imagine something will happen this winter.
"I think that's too far ahead," Hill said. "Obviously that's something that would be great but that's not the focus right now. I think, for me, I'm looking forward to tomorrow and the day after that. So it's a day-at-a-time process."
Red Sox will hold off on September callups
OAKLAND -- Aside from Daniel Bard (who was recalled on Thursday) and Rich Hill (who will be activated Saturday), the Red Sox will hold off on September callups.
After all, prospects Jose Iglesias and Ryan Lavarnway are already on the roster and getting fairly regular playing time. Ryan Kalish also has been back in the Majors for the last week.
When Triple-A Pawtucket finishes the playoffs, there will probably be more roster additions. The Double-A Sea Dogs complete their season on Monday, and righty Clayton Mortensen is a player from that team who is expected to rejoin the Red Sox.
In truth, the whole concept of September callups isn't one that thrills manager Bobby Valentine.
"You play the entire season to build a competitive advantage between your team and the competition, and then it's thrown out the window in the last month of the season," Valentine said. "A taxi squad or a rotating roster would be a very similar situation. You can have five left-handed pitchers and always have three of them available. I don't think it's the right thing to do."
Valentine doesn't dispute expanding the roster. He just doesn't think September is the time to do it.
"I've always been a proponent of April expanded rosters so you get to see get to see guys in April play underneath the lights and pick a real team and then when you pick a real team, you go to battle with that team through the postseason," Valentine said. "This concept is a very old concept of expanding the roster. It should be revised, of course."
As far as the evaluations the Red Sox will be making on Iglesias, Lavarnway and others, Valentine said that September can be a valuable time to see what kind of players they can be.
"It depends on who you're evaluating and how you're evaluating," Valentine said. "If you're evaluating on numbers, then it's very hard. If there's people out there in the stands or in uniform who know a ballplayer from a ballplayer, then it's not so hard, I don't think."
Bard pitches relief inning in big league return
OAKLAND -- Daniel Bard's first outing for the Red Sox in nearly three months brought one home run, one pitch to the backstop, and nonetheless, progress.
"It was good, I felt really comfortable out there," said Bard, who pitched the sixth inning Friday night in a 20-2 bludgeoning by the A's. "The adrenaline was there, a lot more than it has been."
Last in a big league game on June 3, the right-hander came on to begin the frame and surrendered one run on two hits with no walks or strikeouts. He threw 18 pitches, 10 for strikes, and his fastball topped out at 93 mph.
The home run came on a 3-1 fastball to George Kottaras, who saw only fastballs from Bard.
"It wasn't the eighth inning with a one-run lead, but it's a lot bigger stage than what I've pitched on the last couple of months," Bard said. "It was fun, I felt comfortable out there, I wasn't quite as sharp as I'd like to be but I haven't pitched in four days, but it was good to be back out there."
Bard still gave up fewer runs than all but two of the Red Sox's seven pitchers as the ball jumped out of Oakland Coliseum. Manager Bobby Valentine called the outing "a good first step."
Bard threw a combined five sliders and three changeups to the six batters he faced. His first slider, also his second pitch of the night, went to the backstop.
Bard, who is 5-6 with a 5.30 ERA in 12 appearances this season, was optioned to Triple-A on June 5 following a shaky stint in the starting rotation and he continued to be inconsistent as a starter in the Minors. Friday was just his second Major League outing in relief this season.
"I feel like I worked really hard just to get back here," said Bard, who spent most of the season at Triple-A Pawtucket after being removed from the Major League rotation. "Everything's not perfect, it's not where I wanted but I definitely made big steps in the right direction, so just try to continue that for the next month. I know I have to prove some things to some people, and I'm ready to do that."
Ian Browne is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Brownie Points, and follow him on Twitter @IanMBrowne. Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.