For a backup catcher in Major League Baseball, the ultimate insult is being benched for both games of a doubleheader. But that’s just what happened to Koyie Hill on Wednesday when he didn’t make a single appearance behind the plate or in the batter’s box in what amounted to 20 innings of baseball for the Cubs against the Padres.
Hill was a bit surprised about his DNPs.
“I ripped a hard foul ball during batting practice on Monday,” said Hill. “Those guys down the third base line really scattered. I was sure that alone was going to get me a few at-bats.”
Better known for severing three fingers in a table saw incident than for his baseball skills, Hill had been a serviceable backup for the Cubs over the past five seasons before reaching a new low this Spring Training by managing only one hit. Despite the offensive offensive numbers, Hill made the 25-man roster because he’s a favorite of GM Jim Hendry and a “good handler of the pitching staff,” much to the chagrin of manager Mike Quade.
“[Cubs manager Lou] Piniella was so senile by this time last year, he would play Koyie for three straight weeks thinking he was Johnny Bench. When I took over as manager, I vowed this would never happen again,” said Quade. “And I saw Hill hit that foul ball the other day in BP. It went straight into the top of the cage, not down the line. The only things scattering were those stupid seagulls that were camping out up there.”
By Jeremy Barewin