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Chris Hilliard is in his second full season with the Cyclones and he says he has worked hard and is happy to be back in Brooklyn. After working through an injury in the spring, he says he has focused on improving his game and so far his stats are proving just that.
At 3-1 on the season, throwing 25 innings in five starts for the Brooklyn Cyclones, Hilliard is so far feeling good about his season. Sure, he has given up his share of contact, with the opposition hitting .297 off him. However, the left-hander has at least navigated through his starts to a 3.60 ERA with 13 strikeouts. While the Brooklyn coaching staff is pleased with his performance at this point in the season, Hilliard says he can do better and wants to prove it.
“My first two games were good and my last two games were not as good but I luckily got through it without a loss. I wish I would have done better to start the season but… you can’t really ask for too much more. But, I really do think I can pitch better than that so hopefully I can show it in my next outing,” Hilliard said.
For most of Hilliard’s teammates, Brooklyn is a new experience and a culture shock for some. But for Hilliard, the hectic New York style of living is something he has grown to love.
“I pitched here last year and the year before that for like a week so I have definitely adjusted well this year. It’s pretty nice up here, we have like 9,000 fans every game and that’s the best part just playing in front of these fans, they’re great. You can tell the Cyclones mean a lot to the community and I am just happy I have the opportunity to play here again,” Hilliard said.
Hilliard threw 79 1/3 innings in the 2010 season, winning 9 games in 14 starts for the Brooklyn squad. Hilliard finished the season with a 3.74 ERA while striking out 50 and walking 14. Hilliard says he is “a lot better of a pitcher this year” and adds, he plans on putting up even better numbers this season.
“I throw a lot more strikes and I am able to throw a little harder this year than I did last year. I’ve been just working out a little more and focusing on getting stronger. I still want too improve on throwing all of my pitches for strikes and keeping the ball down,” Hilliard said.
Hilliard spent the spring in Port St. Lucie in Extended Spring Training, something to which he credits much of his success this season.
“Extended Spring Training was good for me because I got hurt, I was able to rehab and get back to 100%. It gave me a chance to focus on a few things and really develop as a player. Before coming up here I pitched in a few games in Savannah and I think that also helped prepare me for the competition up here,” Hilliard said.
When asked what his expectations were for the rest of the season, Hilliard said, “I want to continue to pitch good and hopefully make the all-star team and just have a good season overall. I think we have a lot of talent on our team and I think we can really make a push in the playoffs. I want to prove myself and hopefully earn a spot on the St. Lucie Mets roster next season.”
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