Aaron Hill took the field Tuesday afternoon with one final admonishment in his ears – this one from general manager Alex Anthopoulos. In two words: "Go easy."
Judging from Hill's demeanour, following the Toronto Blue Jays brain trust's orders to the max hurt more than the tight right quadriceps muscle that has hampered him this spring. Coming off a season in which he turned into a flat-out masher – 26 home runs, but a paltry .205 batting average put together by a toxic combination of bad luck (a .196 batting average on balls in play, light years lower than any other player with enough at bats to qualify for the batting title) and a swing that seemed to be put together by gum, string and tape – until Tuesday Hill was limited to step-by-step workouts and at-bats in minor-league games.
This much is clear: it's going to be hard to hide an unhealthy Aaron Hill in 2011. This team will pitch, but unless Hill and Adam Lind get their games back together, much of the good work threatens to be undone. Lind has been a diligent student adapting to his role as a full-time first baseman, to the point where he is an average defender. That's progress. But as was demonstrated in Tuesday's 5-4 Grapefruit League loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Florida Auto Exchange Stadium, having Hill at less than 100 per cent presents issues beyond the offensive.
Blue Jays success hinges on Aaron Hill
The Globe and Mail | Mar 23