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Pillar relieved to get first big league hit on board

Pillar relieved to get first big league hit on board

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NEW YORK -- Blue Jays rookie Kevin Pillar can finally relax and take a deep breath after he snapped an 0-for-17 skid Tuesday night against the Yankees.

The sharp single up the middle was the first hit of Pillar's Major League career. It also ensured he wouldn't join David Dellucci (0-for-19) for the most hitless at-bats to start a Blue Jays' career.

Pillar always knew the elusive first hit would eventually happen, but a weight has now been lifted off his shoulders and the 24-year-old believes it should help him focus on the task at hand.

"It feels good, and now I can just get back to playing baseball," Pillar said. "As confident as I am in my ability to hit and my ability to play, naturally it's going to carry a bit of weight, and a little bit extra, when it's your first hit in the big leagues.

"I definitely feel more relaxed. There's going to be a little bit of pressure on anyone going through that sort of struggle. It feels good to see the ball land, and it feels good getting hits, [whether] you're 0-for-17 or 6-for-7."

Pillar is getting his first taste of the Major Leagues after spending the past three seasons in Toronto's Minor League system. It was a quick rise to the top, and Pillar is now getting an idea of just how difficult it is to succeed against big league pitching.

In the Minors, there isn't nearly the same amount of video available compared to the Majors. Hitters tend to focus on their own abilities and shortcomings rather than worrying about what a pitcher is trying to do to get them out.

It's an entirely different story in the big leagues. Pitchers study the tendencies of each hitter and know what to expect going into each at-bat. Scouting reports travel quickly and it's up to the hitters to make the necessary adjustments.

"I think the biggest difference is they don't forget what you did yesterday or the day before," Pillar said of Major League pitchers. "If you chase a pitch out of the zone, they're going to do it again until you prove you can lay off it. [In the Minors], they may throw a ball out of the zone and then come back with a strike the next pitch.

"These pitchers are waiting for you to make an adjustment to them before they make an adjustment to you. I feel like if I can limit the chases out of the zone and narrow the plate a little bit, I feel like I'll have an easier time hitting."

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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