Seven years ago, Hill — then a Cubs prospect in Iowa — watched Marlins pitcher Valerio De Los Santos drill fellow prospect Adam Greenberg in the head during his first career plate appearance. For Hill, it was a gruesome sight.
Although Hill witnessed the sequence on television, he was still troubled by the accident. After all, he'd known Greenberg since their days in the Cape Cod League, when they played for Chatham.
But that's why he preferred to focus on Greenberg's rise to the major leagues — where he'll suit up for the Marlins and receive his second career at-bat on Tuesday night — instead of his tragic fall.
"Let's face it, it stinks," Hill said. "That's the truth. But the thing is he's gotten back up and continued to fight and worked his way back. That's the real story here about how he's fought his way back and not given up. I think that's the moral of that whole story.
"Everybody gets knocked down and thrown on their butt, it's how you get back up and go about your business and how you handle it. From what I've heard and what I've seen, he's done a great job."
But Hill isn't surprised that Greenberg clawed his way back to the majors after battling vertigo. Whether it was in the Cape Cod League, Double-A or Triple-A in the Cubs organization, Hill was always impressed by Greenberg's work ethic.
It took patience for Greenberg to reach this moment. As a result of his vision problems and the long layoff, the outfielder failed to stay in Triple-A and tumbled down into Double-A before bouncing around independent ball.
Through it all, Greenberg continued to chase his dream and redeem himself from the fateful at-bat. Seven years later, the Marlins offered him the opportunity to receive a pinch-hit at-bat.
"Hopefully, it'll be a stepping stone for something," Hill said. "It's already an amazing story. But I'm sure he'd want to continue playing and we'll see where it takes him. I think it's a great thing for baseball and for the Marlins as well."
While Hill and Greenberg haven't kept in touch over the years, Hill has fond memories of Greenberg as a rising prospect. So from the Red Sox reliever's perspective, Greenberg's ability to overcome adversity embodies the American dream.
"I think it's the true story of every baseball player or anybody in this country that works toward something that they want to achieve," Hill said. "You can sit there and [complain], but he just did the right things.
"His work ethic and the way he goes about his business, the way that he handled his situation, is first class. I wouldn't expect anything else from the guy that I knew."
Hill likely won't have time to watch Greenberg's plate appearance against the Mets, considering the Red Sox will have a game against the Yankees. But he'll be monitoring Greenberg's status afterward.
"He's a good guy and a real hard worker, Hill said. "I think it'd be awesome if he hit a home run."