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Pillar ends 0-for-17 skid with first big league hit

Pillar ends 0-for-17 skid with first big league hit

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Pillar ends 0-for-17 skid with first big league hit

NEW YORK -- Kevin Pillar's drought at the plate came to an end on Tuesday night when he recorded the first hit of his Major League career with a single up the middle against New York's Phil Hughes.

The single by Pillar snapped an 0-for-17 skid at the plate which was the longest hitless stretch for any player to start their big league career since Stephen Vogt went a combined 0-for-32 over two seasons in Tampa Bay (2012) and Oakland (2013).

The early slump was one of the main topics of conversation with John Gibbons earlier in the day, and the Blue Jays manager said he wasn't exactly surprised by the slow start.

"It might just be one of those cases where you get that first one out of the way and you can relax a little bit," Gibbons said.

Pillar and fellow outfielder Anthony Gose are expected to receive a lot of playing time in the coming weeks with Melky Cabrera, Jose Bautista and Colby Rasmus all currently on the 15-day disabled list with various injuries.

That has opened the door for another wave of young talent, and it's Pillar and Gose who are taking center stage. They will have plenty of opportunities to work through their ups and downs at the plate and in the field knowing that even if there is a mistake or two it's not going to cost them at-bats until the team gets healthy.

Gose also has the ability to be a little more relaxed with the Blue Jays, considering he already has 72 big league games under his belt. The big question surrounding the promising 23-year-old is whether he'll be able to cut down on his strikeouts.

Speed is Gose's biggest weapon, but he can't take advantage of that skill unless he makes contact at the plate. So far, that has proven to be elusive during his brief career, as evidenced by his 71 strikeouts in 201 at-bats. It was a problem even at Triple-A, where Gose struck out 121 times in 106 games.

Toronto's hope is that Gose will make adjustments in the Majors, just like third baseman Brett Lawrie appeared to do recently by turning his season around with a .415 average (27-for-65) in August.

"Over time, I think he'll get better at that, but that's kind of been his M.O.," Gibbons said of Gose's strikeouts. "But the type of player he is, you have to put the ball in play. That's big. He has a little sock in that bat, too -- almost enough to kind of hurt him. But speed guys, they can't be high-strikeout guys."

Gregor Chisholm is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, North of the Border, and follow him on Twitter @gregorMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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