D-backs' bats sputter again; Hill ready to help

BY foxsports • June 23, 2013

PHOENIX -- It's been boom or bust for the Diamondbacks' offense lately, and Sunday brought a bust in a 4-2 loss to the Reds.

It looked like the offense could have used another bat, and one arrived after the game in the form of second baseman Aaron Hill, who will join the D-backs for a 10-game road trip that starts Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

"It's been a long time," Hill said. "These guys have been doing a great job. It's just tough watching them seeing how much fun they're having, so it'll be fun to get back with the guys and get back on a roll here."

Hill, who returned Sunday from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno, could provide a boost to an offense that has too often relied on NL RBI leader Paul Goldschmidt to do all the heavy lifting. But even Goldschmidt on Sunday didn’t have an answer for Cincinnati starter Mat Latos.

"He was really good," Goldschmidt said. "He did a good job, went right after us."

Added D-backs manager Kirk Gibson: "Not too many guys score against this guy. You're not going to win 'em all. We didn't really do anything wrong today. Sometimes you've just got to tip your cap to the guy on the other side."

As good as Latos was, tying a career high with 13 strikeouts, the D-backs' offense was nearly as ineffective Sunday, at least for the first seven innings. Managing just four hits in that span and getting past second base just once, it was apparent the offense was having one of its off days.

In the last 10 games, the Diamondbacks' offense has averaged 3.9 runs per game, a number skewed by eight-run and 11-run games. In the other eight, the D-backs scored four twice and three or fewer in all the rest.

It's been well documented Goldschmidt that has carried the D-backs offensively thus far. That was particularly evident Friday, when he sparked them to a series-opening win over the Reds with two home runs. After Goldschmidt's NL-best 65 RBI, the most by a D-back is Gerardo Parra's 26. Next is Eric Chavez with 25, and he hasn't even played since May 30.

So in getting back Hill, who's been out since April 15 with a broken bone in his left hand, the D-backs have a potential run producer back in the mix. Hill could slide back into the No. 2 spot in the batting order he manned last season and get plenty of chances to contribute.

But Hill's first test won't be an easy one, as the D-backs face Gio Gonzalez, Jordan Zimmerman and Stephen Strasburg in order during a three-game series with the Nationals.

"Gonzalez, Strasburg and Zimmerman -- you better bring your 'A' game," Gibson said before Sunday's game, laughing. "That's not a good time to try to rehab."

Hill expressed excitement at finally getting back from the hand injury that healed slowly and kept him out of action much longer than expected. He's spent enough time watching the D-backs win their way to a three-game NL West lead; he's ready to be involved.
Just as much, Hill probably would've liked to have played in Sunday's game in hopes of helping the offense get going.

"Good or bad, it's tough not to be a part of it," Hill said. "It's a long year, and you want to be a part of every part of it."