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Quietly, Hill becomes offensive threat

Quietly, Hill becomes offensive threat

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BALTIMORE -- Aaron Hill smiled and gave a shy laugh when asked his feelings about leading the Major Leagues in hits about two months into the season.

The reason he laughed? He didn't know about it.

"I don't worry about that stuff," he said before Tuesday's game. "If you're on the leaderboard, you're helping out your team."

That's what Hill worries about more than anything. He likes having 72 hits and a .348 average that was fifth in the American League heading into Tuesday's game with the Orioles. But he worries about the team's success more than his stats -- and he is hoping for a quick end to the frustrating losing streak the Jays are stuck in.

"When you're going through a seven-game skid like we are now, nothing really matters but a win," Hill said. "Everything is a lot easier when you're winning."

Hill's numbers are even more impressive considering he missed the final four months of last season after suffering a concussion from a collision with David Eckstein in a game against Oakland.

He played only 55 games last year, but is back with a bit of a different routine. He is spending more time hitting off a tee to keep his swing short, compact and good.

Hill said it's important to stay with the same swing, because small tweaks can throw a batter into trouble for a few games. He is trying to stay disciplined, going to work on that tee all the time.

"I found my routine, and I like what I'm doing right now," Hill said. "I know what I have to do to get ready for a game. I like the way it feels right now."

Toronto manager Cito Gaston said that Hill has been a big help to the team this year.

"It's a shame we didn't have him last year," Gaston said. "He plays hard, comes to play, wants to win. I'm very pleased with him."

Hill said that he is going to stick with what has been working so far. He said keeping consistent work habits will give consistent results on the field.

But Hill also doesn't want to just have a strong start. He wants a strong finish and, more than anything, hopes to help the Blue Jays win.

"We'll see how it ends up," Hill said. "Everybody remembers how you finish."

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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