Hill impressing Counsell at third base

Hill impressing Counsell at third base

PHOENIX -- Brewers manager Craig Counsell, who knows all about bouncing around the infield, said he likes what he sees so far from Aaron Hill as the veteran prepares for his first extended stint at third base.

Hill primarily played second base during his first 11 Major League seasons, but he's the Brewers' projected starter at third after joining the team in a trade with the D-backs. Hill has played only 80 of his 1,338 defensive games at third base, including 38 games (33 starts) last season for Arizona.

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"He's obviously limited in his experience over there, and if he plays 15 games [plus] two or three times a week early work, we're putting a lot of third-base work into his 'library,' which is great," Counsell said. "We have conversations every day about, 'Hey, what about this play?' or, 'This play could happen.' It's still new for him, and a guy like him, he wants to make the play once, or see the play happen once, and then he has it.

"What you want in Spring Training is you want to be tested. You want to be put to your limits, especially, to me, for a veteran player. … He's getting [those tests] by getting steady action at third base."

Hill endured one of those tests in Saturday 15-7 loss to the Angels at Tempe Diablo Stadium when he knocked down a screaming line drive to his backhand side and bounced the throw to first base for an error that contributed to a big inning for the Angels. Yet, it is not the throws that present the biggest challenge to Hill, Counsell said.

"It's just such a different position than the middle positions," Counsell said. "The ball is hit to you a lot harder, obviously. You have less reaction time. It's harder to simulate third base in practice than it is for the middle infielders, because that timing just never [equates to a game]. You don't get to pick your hops at third base. The good middle infielders get to pick their hops. At third base, with good feet, you still can give yourself a little bit easier hop, but it's more challenging at third base.

"It's more, you make a decision whether to go get it [or] take a drop step back, and then you have to live with that."

How has Hill looked?

"He's going to be fine," Counsell said. "His arm is going to work perfect over there."

Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @AdamMcCalvy, like him on Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.