TERRE HAUTE —
After suffering a turf toe injury in the first game of Indiana State’s season, Lucas Hileman played through the nagging ailment the remainder of the spring.
Hileman, a speedy outfielder who played one year at Baylor and John A. Logan before transferring to ISU, is providing a boost to the Terre Haute Rex after struggling through his first spring for the Sycamores.
Hileman flashed his potential as a freshman in the Big 12, hitting .395 in 50 plate appearances for the Bears.
Hileman saw his batting average settle in at .260 for ISU, stealing seven bases in nine attempts.
With the Rex, he’s already stolen four bases, showing that the burst is back in his step. Hileman is also batting .441 with three doubles and 14 runs scored in 11 games of action.
“Turf toe is an interesting deal. It’s the big toe of my pivot foot. Everything I do in baseball it affects. It affects my swing, my back foot that pivots around. It affects running, base-stealing, taking routes to baseballs in the outfield,” Hileman said. “It was basically a toe jam, but I never really had a chance to rest it, to get it healthy.”
Rex manager Brian Dorsett is glad to have Hileman round out a talented outfield. Hileman joins Chris Manning, Ronnie Mitchell, Joe Meggs and Nick Johnson as part of a rotation.
“His energy, he’s getting on base, stealing bags and he’s made some nice plays in the outfield as well,” Dorsett said. “The fact that he’s getting on, that stimulates that offense right away at the top, with Manning, that’s helped us a lot.”
Manning has been a force in the leadoff spot for the Rex, ranking among the top hitters in the Prospect League with a .369 batting average and 11 stolen bases.
“Manning’s an incredible hitter,” Hileman said. “Mitchell’s hit into some tough look. I’ve been telling him — he’s a younger guy — and that’s how the game goes. He’ll be the guy that gets hot in July when it really matters.”
Soon to be 21 years old, Hileman is thankful for the opportunity to play with the Rex for multiple reasons, one being it’s his home ballpark.
“This ballpark’s probably the best one in this league. It’s been a joy to be a part of,” Hileman said. “This organization. I’ve played for three different teams, three different leagues. This is the best organization by far.”
Hileman said the atmosphere around the Rex is special.
“The way the organization treats the players and the fans. The fans I can tell are treated really well and they show that to us,” Hileman said. “A big part of summer ball is playing in front of a lot of people and people coming out and having a good time. The fans make this team. The fans make Terre Haute Rex what they are. I give a lot of credit to the fans of Terre Haute because they’re some of the best I’ve seen in summer baseball.”
Hileman just hopes to maintain his strong play and help the Rex challenge for a second straight playoff berth.
“The main concern for me this summer was to be healthy. Consistency has always been my problem. I’ve started off really hot, I’m typically a hot starter, but I’ve got to figure out something within myself to stay consistent all the way through,” Hileman said. “That’s part of baseball. Showing up every day and taking the same approach to it. That’s part of growing up as a baseball player really, that’s part of the thing that I need to work on and want to accomplish this summer.”