Paul Hoilman’s baseball season ended about a month sooner than he had planned.
The former East Tennessee State first baseman underwent surgery on his left pinky on Aug. 12 and is looking at about a three-month rehab.
“It’s the only rehab I’ve ever done. I’ve never been injured,” Hoilman said Wednesday from the Chicago Cubs’ training facilities in Mesa, Ariz. “Right now all I do is bend my finger. They said I’d be in a splint for six weeks after the surgery.”
Hoilman, a 19th-round draft pick of the Cubs in 2011, has been playing Class A ball in Peoria, Ill. He was injured while fielding a throw up the line from the pitcher on a close play at first.
“I’ve made that play several times and never had a problem,” he said. “This time it was like the perfect collision. My pinkie was in my glove, and I don’t know if the runner’s knee hit me or what. I pulled my hand out of the glove and my pinkie was pointing the wrong way.
“We realized pretty quick that the tendon had been ripped away from the bone. It’s unfortunate. I was hoping for a playoff push and to finish strong from a personal standpoint.”
Hoilman hit .237 in 109 games for the Chiefs, who currently stand seventh in their Midwest League division. It had been a struggle in August -— he hit .139 in his last 10 games — but Hoilman still leads the team in runs batted in (61) and doubles (30).
He also was second in the league in strikeouts, with 155.
“It’s been a learning process in a long season,” said Hoilman, who set a club record with 17 home runs in his rookie season last summer at Boise. “It was my first full season and I got to play every day. I had a pretty good first half, made the all-star team. The second half started out well and then I got snakebit and started struggling. I struggled for quite awhile.
“I thought I was just about to turn the corner when I got hurt.”
Hoilman has to see doctors in Chicago today to have stitches removed. He’s hoping to come back to Johnson City for the rest of his rehab.
“I’m definitely hoping to get home soon,” he said. “I’ve been gone six months now and it’s about time I head back that way."