Player returns to Cubs after fingers reattached

CHICAGO Last fall, he had three fingers and his thumb sewn back on after they were cut off by a table saw.

Hill knows about pain and depression and the fear of a dream lost.

After playing briefly with the Cubs last summer, the switch-hitting catcher and son of a carpenter went into the off-season. Last October, cutting wood with a table saw, he nearly severed three fingers from his throwing hand - pinky, ring and middle.

"I saw a lot of things flash before my eyes. You're trying to assess the damage and what to do next," Hill said.

Despite the pain and uncertainty, he committed himself to rehab. The pins in his three injured fingers were removed, and his playing is unaffected.

"A lot of heart and desire went into it. I've always been a baseball player. I've never wanted to be anything else. In my mind, that's what I was going to do, at least give it a shot," Hill said.

People who have gone through surgery to attach severed fingers seldom regain full use and sensation. One doctor says it's almost unheard of for a professional athlete to regain what Hill has.

"Part of it may be the advances we made in microsurgical reconstruction, but the biggest attribution is to the patient himself, his desire to return to what he enjoys doing. That's what overcomes everything," said Dr. John Fernandez, Rush Medical Center.

"I've got plenty of best friends on this team. It's nice to come back and hang around with them and get on with it," Hill said.

Hill says he's going to stay away from the saw and just be a boss. He may become a rehab case study for others who have gone through similar injury. For now, he said he just wants to play baseball.

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