Tucson Padres: Hill eager to rejoin D-backs

2013-06-16T00:00:00Z Tucson Padres: Hill eager to rejoin D-backsDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 16, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It was a dark and scary time with a lot of uncertainty the first time Aaron Hill was placed on the disabled list.

The second baseman was with the Toronto Blue Jays and suffered a concussion when he collided with teammate David Eckstein in late May of 2008. He missed the rest of the season, had trouble with brightness and headaches and had legit concerns that he'd never be back on a baseball field.

He played in just 55 games that season and had a hard time being away from his team.

"You beat yourself up because you feel like you're letting your team down," Hill said. "It's not a good feeling."

When Hill returned to the Blue Jays the following season, he was better than ever. He hit .286 with 36 home runs and 108 RBIs and made the American League All-Star team.

Thankfully for him, his worst fears weren't realized.

So it makes sense now, as he finds himself on the disabled list for the third time in his career, that he's much more at peace with things.

Hill, now with the Diamondbacks, played second base and batted third for the Reno Aces on a rehab assignment in the team's 5-0 win over Tucson on Saturday night at Kino Stadium. He's recovering from a broken hand he suffered in the D-backs' 10th game of the season back in April.

Saturday marked his first rehab game and he's hoping he can rejoin Arizona as soon as next week.

"This time, I didn't beat myself up. It was more, 'You know what? It happened. There's nothing I can do about it,' " said Hill, who also landed on the DL for less than three weeks in 2011 with a hamstring injury. "I've had some great time with my family and I just try to focus on the positives."

It also helped that, long-term, this injury was far less serious than the concussion.

Either way, it's been frustrating for Hill, 31, to be away from his teammates.

If 2009 was Hill's best season, last year with the D-backs was his second best and he was eager to build on it this season. He batted .302 with 26 home runs and 85 RBIs and earned the second Silver Slugger award of his career.

Impressive feats no doubt, it was far from the most notable thing Hill did in 2012. The LSU product became the first big league player since 1931 to hit for two cycles in a season. And consider this: Tucson's parent club, San Diego, which became a major league franchise in 1969, has never had a player hit for a cycle.

"It was awesome," Hill said. "I really enjoy looking back at it. I'll probably get a chance to look back at it more when my career's over and enjoy it even more."

That certainly adds up. His focus right now is on rejoining the first-place D-backs.

Hill is expected to be back in the lineup today with Reno before getting a day off on Monday. If he comes out of the first two games OK and continues to feel healthy, he'll be back at Chase Field sooner rather than later.

"Right now it's seeing if I can play with it and tolerate the pain and what not," Hill said. "It's on me if we can do this thing. The guys are playing great and it's been fun to watch, but it's obviously more fun to play. "

But in the mean time, the fans at Kino Stadium were treated to seeing an All-Star.

"He's a great player," Tucson manager Pat Murphy said. "It's a great experience for our guys to go against a player like him. I think the pitchers will really enjoy the challenge."

¡Tus Padres!

• Highlight: Aces starter Zeke Spruill tossed eight shutout innings, giving up just four hits and striking out four as Reno evened the four-game series at one victory apiece. Tucson catcher Rene Rivera had three of the team's six hits in the loss. Reno first baseman Mike Jacobs was 3 for 3 in the win and homered for the third straight game. He's now hitting .419 in 11 games since being signed.

• Big number: 1: The loss marked the first time this season the Padres have lost to the Aces. Tucson (36-33) entered Saturday's game with a 5-0 mark against Reno.

• Tonight's starters: LHP Robbie Erlin (5-1, 3.75 ERA) vs. RHP Nate Adcock (3-4, 7.09 ERA)

Daniel Berk

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