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Kudos to Koyie

By Brittany Feagans [brit.feagans@gmail.com]

            Before Koyie Hill kicks off his cleats and enjoys a well-deserved day off, Cubs fans everywhere owe him a standing ovation.

            After all, catching 26 straight games of Major League Baseball is not an easy task, and with starting catcher Geovany Soto out for a month with an oblique tear, Hill has become an increasingly important part of the Cubs lineup.

            Surprisingly, Hill became one of only three Cubs players in the past 50 years to start 26 consecutive games. Even Soto, our primary catcher, can’t say he’s done that.

            When Geo went down in early July, he joined the plethora of injuries the Cubs have sustained this season. And with power hitters Soto, Ramirez, and Lee continually flirting with the DL, the Cubs have had to find other ways to manufacture wins.

            With Ramirez’s return, Lee’s back spasms becoming manageable, and Soriano finally breaking out of his slump, the Cubs have sustained a 28-17 record in games Hill has started.

            Although his .209 batting average is less than impressive, Hill has managed to catch 14 men stealing and knock in 14 RBIs of his own, including two homeruns and seven doubles. Not bad for a guy not used to playing everyday.

            Whatever way you look at it, Hill has become an important asset for the Cubs, helping the team dance with St. Louis for first-place like some sort of bizarre mating ritual.

            The fact that Hill is even available to catch is somewhat of a miracle. In October 2007, mere months after being called up to the Cubs, Hill suffered a table saw accident that severed his thumb and mangled the four remaining fingers on his throwing hand.

            Fortunately, Hill was able to save the fingers long enough to reattach them, and after months of therapy, he was able to regain motion. That potentially career-crushing accident wasn’t even two years ago— now look how far Hill has come.

            Determined to continue playing baseball and prove the doctors and specialists wrong, Hill relearned how to use his hand, even the mundane process of giving a high-five. Only 10 months after the freak accident, Hill got called back up to the Majors after an impressive performance in Iowa.

            In the 113 games he played for the 2008 Iowa Cubs, Hill maintained a .275 batting average with 17 homeruns and 64 RBIs.

            So before anyone makes a snide remark about Hill’s hitting during his streak, remember this—the Cubs are lucky to have him.

            A passionate, ambitious backup catcher is difficult to come across, especially after all Hill’s been through in the past two years.

            With Soto back in the lineup, Hill will finally get a chance to catch a breath and rest his fingers, fingers he is lucky to have.

            And with the Cubs losing Soto during a critical stretch in the close race for first place, Hill has earned his place as our Angel of the Infield.

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