Perseverance pays off for Koyie Hill

CHICAGO -- Koyie Hill wanted to stay in the game long enough for at least one more chance at playing in the big leagues and on Saturday he was rewarded.

The previously catching-deep Cubs now have three catchers nursing injuries with Steve Clevenger and Geovany Soto on the disabled list and Welington Castillo dealing with an aching MLC. Castillo will be re-examined Tuesday to see if also will be headed to the DL.

So even though Blake Lalli was recalled from Triple-A Iowa on Friday, it is Hill who will get the bulk of the playing time for now. He was acquired by the Cubs from the Cincinnati Reds for cash considerations and summoned from Double-A Pensacola.

After being released by the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of March, the Reds came with a job offer a month later, assigning him to Double-A but telling him they would be open to moving him if he had a chance to play in the big leagues again. They were true to their word Saturday.

“That was the whole point of going down there,” Hill said. “I went home for a month. We weighed over some options. We passed over some jobs, we thought about some jobs, offers. They have a brand new ballpark down there (in Pensacola). I was playing four or five days a week. (Jim) Riggleman was the manager. Rudy (Jaramillo’s) nephew was the hitting coach. It was about as good of a situation as you could get.”

Hill said retirement finally started to creep into his head this year, but he stayed with the game long enough to not only see the major leagues again but to see it with the Cubs.

“I thought about (retirement) every day,” Hill said. “I think anybody that’s thinking clearly would think about it every day. That’s just natural. But I have a really good support system and I really appreciate it. It’s not the first time we’ve had to go through something and we’ve come out on the bright side of it.”

To put an exclamation point on the entire proceedings, on Saturday Hill got to catch one his best friends in the game, Ryan Dempster.

It’s funny how baseball works sometimes.

“It’s crazy, it’s beautiful, it’s frustrating, it’s rewarding, it’s everything,” Hill said. “There are some thoughts that went through my head that never went through my head before. You’ve had a nice run at it and the next thing you know you’re trying to catch a 22-year-old guy that throws half his pitches off the backstop. You’re thinking surely there’s got to be something else to do at home and see my girls every day. You just don’t leave anything on the table.”

The reality is that Hill could be gone as quickly as he arrived. When one of the three injured Cubs catchers return he still figures to stay with the club, but once two of them are healthy it’s more than likely that he is gone.

For now, though, he isn’t thinking about all of that.

“It was worth it,” he said.