Hill can't shake struggles

MIKE RUTSEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:00 AM ET

SEATTLE — This is not the way that Aaron Hill wanted to start the season.

Nine games in and he’s dragging a .184 average to the plate.

His body language the past two games has been one of frustration.

That’s what a 1-for-7 game on Saturday and 0-for-4 outing on Sunday will do for you.

This is not the way Hill had envisioned his first week of action, a .184 average, no home runs and just one extra-base hit. He also does not have a hit against a left-hander (0-for-8).

The only plus is that he has driven in six runs but that is the lone positive stat in an otherwise sea of negativity.

It’s just a week in and already it looks all too familiar. It looks like last season when he flirted the entire year with the Mendoza Line and finished the year batting an embarrassing .205.

This was supposed to be the year of a bounce back. This was supposed to be the year that with the departure of Vernon Wells, he would assume a more pronounced leadership role.

Jeez, even new manager John Farrell constantly showered him with praise and showed great faith by slotting him fifth in the batting order when the season broke.

Farrell believed that Hill’s stroke would return and when discussing 2010, he kept pointing to the 26 home runs he hit and kept up the chant that Hill was a power hitting second baseman, a real plus to have on a team.

But it’s one week in and not a whole lot has gone right for the 29-year-old second baseman.

An injured right quad early in spring training kept him out of game action until the final 10 days and at the start of the season you could see that he wasn’t yet moving at top speed.

Then the day before opening day, he was told by general manager Alex Anthopoulos that the Jays would not be picking up his option for 2014, that they would wait and see how the season played out before committing so much long-term money.

The quad is no longer a problem but being able to square up the barrel of his bat on pitches still is.

A hot start would have been ideal, would have been refreshing, would have erased any doubts that lingered from 2010.

That’s what the stats say but when you talk to Hill, it’s all sunshine and blue sky. His message is that it’s early, there is no reason to panic and he truly believes that in 2011 he will make the return to the prominence that he showed in previous campaigns.

“Personally I feel fine,” Hill said prior to Monday’s game against the Mariners. “I’ve got my hands in a little different slot and I’m just getting comfortable where I’m at. I don’t have any issues with it (his offence).

“The first couple of games I hit the ball hard. The Angels series wasn’t great (2-for-15) but I still felt comfortable.”

Any mention of last season almost causes Hill to break into a nervous twitch and he dismisses the notion that a positive April is needed for the good for his overall psyche.

“It’s done,” he said of 2010. “This is a whole new year. I’ve just got to keep going because you’ve got to make the adjustments. What I’m trying to do right now is simplify the swing. The bottom line now is that it’s been only nine games. Obviously everybody wants to get off to a good start but there’s a lot of baseball left so I’m not worried.”

Possessed with a bubbly personality, Hill tries to think of himself as a positive thinker.

“I always hope for the best and try to be the best,” he said. “The only thing that gets me in trouble is trying to be perfect. You practice perfection and hopefully good things will happen.

“My thing that I think everybody has to learn is that even though things aren’t going well, the work that you put into it, you’re still doing everything that you’re supposed to be doing. The results aren’t always going to be there sometimes but that’s not because I’m doing anything wrong.”

The game is tough enough, he said, without being a negative thinker.

“Not getting down on yourself is a big thing because everybody knows that confidence is huge in this game,” he said.

Where’s his confidence right now?

“It’s nine games in,” he said with a laugh. “Of course it’s still good.”

mike.rutsey@sunmedia.ca


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