Author Archive

Detroit’s Jason Foley Is Sinking His Way to the Top

© Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Jason Foley has emerged as one of the most reliable members of the Detroit Tigers bullpen, and learning that his four-seam fastball profiled poorly is a big reason why. The 26-year-old right-hander switched to a sinker, and the results speak for themselves. Since debuting with Detroit last June, Foley has a 2.79 ERA and a 3.54 FIP over 36 relief appearances comprising 38-and-two-thirds innings. Throwing his worm-killer 53.9% of the time, he’s logged a 55.3% groundball rate.

Foley, whom the Tigers signed out of Sacred Heart University in 2016, discussed his career-changing repertoire tweak at Fenway Park in late June.

———

David Laurila: You’ve gone from a non-drafted free agent out of a low-profile college program to a pitcher performing at a high level in the big leagues. How did that happen?

Jason Foley: “I get asked that quite a bit, like — ‘You weren’t good enough to get drafted, so how are you now here?’ — and I think a lot of people are looking for one magic answer, or maybe one magic change that I’ve made. But neither of those are true. It really just stems from hard work and consistency, and from all of the little things that help you get 1% better every day.” Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Notes: Kyle Garlick Didn’t Need The Backup Plan

Kyle Garlick was a long shot to make the big leagues when he was first featured here at FanGraphs in 2016. A 28th-round senior-sign by the Los Angeles Dodgers the previous summer, Garlick was 24 years old, unranked, and very much under the radar. Moreover, he was heading into an offseason where he’d be working two jobs to help make ends meet. As Garlick explained at the time, he was going to be working half days on a construction crew, and bar-backing at a restaurant on weekends.

Six years later, he is a valuable role player on a contending team. In 81 plate appearances with the Minnesota Twins, the right-handed-hitting outfielder is slashing .274/.333/.534 with six home runs and a 145 wRC+.

There have been a lot of ups and downs along the way. Since debuting with the Dodgers in 2019, Garlick has been traded once, claimed off of waivers twice, and spent multiple stints on the injured list and in Triple-A. That his MLB resume consists of 111 games over parts of four seasons qualifies as an accomplishment.

Earlier this season, I asked Garlick about his expectations at the time of our 2016 conversation. Did he truly see himself reaching the big leagues?

“Personally, I was very sure,” responded Garlick. “I don’t know that others were. But even though I had faith in myself, I had backup plans. When I went back to Triple-A in 2019. my thought was that if I didn’t get called up that year, I would give myself 2020. If I didn’t get called up then, I was probably going to hang it up. Luckily that didn’t happen. I got called up [in 2019] and that changed my life. I’ve been able to make myself a little career out of baseball.”

Garlick earned a degree in General Social Science from the University of Oregon, but his backup plan had no connection to his studies. He was going to become a firefighter.

“I had a few buddies doing that, and they loved it,” explained Garlick. “It’s kind of a clubhouse vibe, and I’d have been doing things like saving lives. I couldn’t see myself in a desk job, sitting behind a screen, and that’s something that appealed to me.”

Not so much anymore. Garlick celebrated his 30th birthday this past winter, and while he can still square up high heaters, fighting flames is another story

“I’m getting older,” Garlick reasoned. “I don’t know how many guys start firefighting when they’re my age, but it’s probably not too many. So, I’m not sure what comes next. I kind of put all of my eggs in one basket for baseball when I chose a college major. Maybe I’ll stay in the game in some capacity. I’ll figure that out when the time comes.”

———

RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Tom Prince went 3 for 5 against Jeremy Affeldt.

Jeff King went 5 for 8 against Rick Aguilera.

Dave Kingman went 6 for 9 against Matt Young.

Jimmy Outlaw went 6 for 9 against Mel Queen Sr.

Roberto Clemente went 6 for 12 against Mel Queen Jr.

———

Dan Dickerson wasn’t one of the contributors to Broadcaster’s View: What is the Best Pitching Performance You’ve Seen? when the piece ran here at FanGraphs on June 2nd. Better late than never, the radio play-by-play voice of the Detroit Tigers shared the following when I caught up to him at Fenway Park a few weeks ago.

“My No. 1 would be Kenny Rogers against the Yankees, Game Three of the 2006 ALDS,” Dickerson told me, adding that the southpaw’s career ERA against the Bronx Bombers was well north of six. “That lineup was loaded. As Jim Leyland called it, it was ‘Murderer’s Row, and then Cano.’ Robinson Canó was hitting ninth.

“He went out there and channeled young Kenny Rogers, at 41 years old,” continued Dickerson. “I don’t know what the radar gun said — I’m not even sure there was a radar gun — but he was reaching back and firing fastballs. And he was so animated. He was feeding off the crowd and vice versa. When he left the mound, that place just erupted. I think he went seven-and-two-thirds, but whatever it was, he was incredible.”

Dickerson’s second and third choices were by the same pitcher.

“I’ve seen Justin Verlander’s no-hitters, but his back-to-back Game Fives in Oakland — almost exactly one year apart to the day — are the ones that stand out the most,” said Dickerson. “Two years in a row, the Tigers had to play a deciding Game Five in Oakland, and those crowds were the loudest I’ve heard in the postseason. That place was crazy. It was like a Raiders game.

“[Verlander’s] combined line for the two games was 17 innings, no runs, six hits, two walks, and 21 strikeouts. I mean, who do you want on the mound in a big game? The answer is Justin Verlander. Deciding games, and it was, ‘This is what I want, and this is what I’m going to do.’ Phenomenal.”

———

A quiz:

Dave Righetti completed his July 4, 1983 no-hitter by striking out that season’s American League batting champion. Who did the New York Yankees southpaw fan for the final out?

The answer can be found below.

———

NEWS NOTES

SABR has added a Baseball Broadcasting panel to its annual convention, which will be held in Baltimore from August 17-21. Kevin Brown, the TV play-by-play voice of the Orioles, and Joe Castiglione, the radio play-by-play voice of the Red Sox, will be the featured panelists.

Joe Staton, a first baseman for the Detroit Tigers for parts of the 1972 and 1973 seasons, died earlier this month at age 74. A Seattle native who went a combined 4 for 19 in his two cups of coffee, Staton had an RBI single in his final MLB plate appearance, then retired from baseball at age 25.

——-

The answer to the quiz is Boston’s Wade Boggs, who went on to finish the season with a .361 average and just 36 strikeouts in 685 plate appearances. Righetti fanned the Hall of Famer twice while pitching his July 4 gem.

———

Tyler Mahle was refreshingly honest when I asked him about his curveball prior to the 2020 season. Shortly before spring-training camps were shut down due to the emerging pandemic, the Cincinnati Reds right-hander told me that not only was the pitch a work-in-progress, “Technically, [he hadn’t] thrown a really good curveball yet.”

He had thrown some bad ones. In 2019, Mahle’s curveball usage was 23.1%, and his 3-12 won-lost record was accompanied by a 5.14 ERA. Aware that the pitch had been getting squared up all too often, he was hoping to remake it into an actual asset. Instead, he ended up scrapping it entirely. Mahre hasn’t thrown a curveball since our 27-months-ago conversation.

When I asked Mahle about that at the beginning of this month, he said the decision was based more on the quality of his slider than it was on the inability to develop a reliable hook. He also pointed to the continued improvement of his splitter, which he learned in 2018 after being sent back down to Triple-A. Taught to him by then-Louisville Bats pitching coach Jeff Fassero, it proved a panacea to his longtime struggles to effectively throw a conventional changeup.

Mahle has thrown his splitter 25.4% of the time this year while going 3-6 with a 4.53 and a 3.38 FIP. Last season he went 13-6 with a 3.75 and a 3.80 FIP.

———

FOREIGN AFFAIRS

Shogo Akiyama is returning to NPB, having reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with the Hiroshima Carp. The 34-year-old outfielder played for the Seibu Lions from 2011-2019 before spending the 2020 and 2021 campaigns with the Cincinnati Reds. Akiyama was with San Diego’s Triple-A affiliate earlier this season.

Kensuke Kondoh has been activated from the injured list by the Nippon-Ham Fighters. The 28-year-old, lft-handed-hitting outfielder has a .307/.410/.430 slash line over 11 NPB seasons.

Enny Romero is 6-4 with a 2.00 ERA over 72 innings for NPB’s Chiba Lotte Marines. The 31-year-old former MLB left-hander has been pitching in Japan since 2019.

Per MassLive’s Katie Morrison, Thomas Pannone has been granted his release by the Red Sox and will be taking his talents to the KBO. The 28-year-old former Toronto Blue Jays southpaw signed with Boston in March and has been pitching for Triple-A Worcester.

Yefry Ramírez allowed four runs over two-and-a-third innings in his first appearance with the Hanwha Eagles. The 28-year-old former big-league right-hander signed with the KBO club earlier this month.

———

Brayan Peña manages the West Michigan Whitecaps. He’s also a diehard fan of Real Madrid. In his second season at the helm of Detroit’s High-A affiliate, Peña has been supporting the legendary Spanish soccer club for most of his 40 years.

“When I grew up in Havana, Cuba, there were only two teams that you would root for, and that was Barcelona or Real Madrid,” Peña said of his fútbol allegiance. “My family loved Real Madrid. They loved the uniforms, everything. Mentally, we would picture Madrid — such a beautiful place — and I knew that I wanted to visit one day.”

That dream came true after Peña retired from a big-league playing career that spanned the 2005-2016 seasons. Traveling to Spain, he was able to purchase not only the Real Madrid jersey that hangs in his office, but also
tickets for a match at 81,000-seat Santiago Bernabéu Stadium.

“We had a chance to see Cristiano Ronaldo play, too” Peña said of the Portuguese superstar. “It was beautiful, man. It was one of my dreams, and it came true. God allowed me to be in that position with my wife and my kids. It was awesome.”

———

FARM NOTES

Jared Shuster has a 3.27 ERA over 14 starts comprising 71-and-two-thirds innings for the Double-A Mississippi Braves. The 23-year-old left-hander — No. 4 on our Atlanta Braves Top Prospects list — has allowed 57 hits, issued 19 walks, and logged 82 strikeouts.

Cole Ragans has a 2.50 ERA over 13 starts comprising 68-and-third innings between Double-A Frisco and Triple-A Round Rock. The 24-year-old left-hander — No. 20 on our Texas Rangers Top Prospects list — has allowed 54 hits, issued 22 walks, and logged 84 strikeouts.

Drew Parrish has a 3.13 ERA over 14 starts comprising 74-and-two-thirds innings between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha. The 24-year-old left-hander — No. 17 on our Kansas City Royals Top Prospects list — has allowed 51 hits, issued 23 walks, and logged 60 strikeouts.

Emerson Hancock has a 3.03 ERA over eight starts comprising 29-and-two-thirds innings for the Double-A Arkansas Travelers. No. 6 on our Seattle Mariners Top Prospects list, the 23-year-old right-hander discussed his repertoire and early-career development here at FanGraphs last summer.

Peyton Battenfield has a 3.08 ERA over 16 starts comprising 90-and-two-thirds innings for the Triple-A Columbus Clippers. No. 25 on our Cleveland Guardians Top Prospects list, the 24-year-old right-hander was featured here at FanGraphs last August, a month after being traded to Cleveland by the Tampa Bay Rays.

———

LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At Crawfish Boxes, Cody Poage wrote about Houston Astros reliever Enoli Paredes, for whom control is the key.

Purple Row’s Renee Dechert feels that Colorado Rockies fans deserve better, and she has opinions on how to make that happen.

Pitching coach Wes Johnson unexpectedly left the Minnesota Twins to assume that same role at Louisiana State University. Dan Hayes has the story at The Athletic (subscription required).

The Senate Judiciary Committee is questioning the legality of MLB’s antitrust exemption, and Joon Lee wrote about it for ESPN.

———

RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Manny Machado, who turns 30 years old on July 6, has a .282 batting average, 1,510 hits, and 263 home runs. Ron Santo had a .281 batting average, 1,592 hits, and 253 home runs prior to turning 30.

The first year the Boston Red Sox hit more home runs than triples as a team was 1931. Last year the Red Sox hit 219 home runs and 23 triples. (Hat tip to historian Bill Nowlin for the fact.)

Thirty-two people born in the state of New Hampshire have pitched in at least one big-league game. Of them, Sam Fuld is the only one with a career ERA of 0.00. The erstwhile outfielder — now the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies — faced one batter in 2013 while playing for the Tampa Bay Rays. Fuld retired JB Shuck on a fly ball.

In 1938, Philadelphia Athletics outfielder “Indian Bob” Johnson had 114 runs scored, 113 RBIs, and a .552 slugging percentage. In 1939, Johnson had 115 runs scored, 114 RBIs, and a .553 slugging percentage,

Chick Stahl had 72 walks and just 10 strikeouts when he slashed .351/.426/.493 for the National League’s Boston Beaneaters in 1899. Stahl was a 34-year-old player-manager for the Boston Americans when he died after drinking poison in 1907.

On today’s date in 1912, the New York Giants won their 15th and 16th games in a row by sweeping a double-header from the Brooklyn Dodgers. The John McGraw-managed club ran their record to 54-11 on the way to a 103-48-3 season.

On today’s date in 1966, Atlanta Braves pitcher Tony Cloninger helped his own cause with a pair of grand slams in a complete-game 17-3 win over the San Francisco Giants. The right-hander went 3 for 5 with nine RBIs on the day, while Hank Aaron, Rico Carty, and Joe Torre homered in support.

Luis Tiant had 19 strikeouts while tossing a 10-inning, 1-0 shutout over the Minnesota Twins on today’s date in 1968. The Cleveland righty finished the season 21-9 with a 1.60 ERA and nine shutouts.

Players born on today’s date include Bunny Brief, whose 256 home runs are the all-time record in the now-defunct American Association. The Remus, Michigan native also went deep five times over parts of four big-league seasons, with the last of his blasts coming with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1917.

Eddie Rommel — born Edwin Americus Rommel, in Baltimore — became a longtime American League umpire following a playing career that saw him go 171-119 over 13 season with the Philadelphia A’s. Twice a 20-game winner, Rommel recorded the last of his wins on July 10, 1932, working 17 innings of relief in an 18-inning, 18-17 Philadelphia win over Cleveland.


Long Under the Radar, Darick Hall Is Ready to Launch in Philadelphia

© Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

Darick Hall was an under-the-radar prospect when he was first featured here at FanGraphs in June 2018. A 14th-round pick two years earlier out of Dallas Baptist University, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound first baseman went into that season unranked. That part of his profile hasn’t changed. Hall logged a 101 wRC+ in Triple-A last year, and came into the current campaign once again absent from most prospect lists.

He’s proceeded to crush expectations. The now-26-year-old slugger earned his first big league call-up on Wednesday, this after bashing 20 home runs with a 132 wRC+ at Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Last night, in just his second game, Hall launched a pair of home runs in a 14-4 Phillies win over the Atlanta Braves.

Hall discussed his evolution as a hitter late in spring training.

———

David Laurila: How have you evolved as a hitter since we talked four years ago?

Darick Hall: “It’s changed, but at the same time, it hasn’t changed much. I had been learning how to hit line drives more. Coming into pro ball, if the ball wasn’t up, I would drive it into the ground, because I would come over the top. Through the years, I’ve learned how to… I have a flat path, right? I don’t really have that vertical barrel, up through, so I had to learn how to use my legs to go down and get level with that ball to where I can hit it on a line. Obviously, sometimes I’ll drive it up for [home runs].” Read the rest of this entry »


Cardinals Rookie Zack Thompson Has a Quality Curveball

© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

The Learning and Developing a Pitch series is back for another season, and we’re once again hearing from pitchers on a notable weapon in their arsenal. Today’s installment features St. Louis Cardinals rookie left-hander Zack Thompson on his big-bending curveball.

Drafted 19th overall in 2019 out of the University of Kentucky, the 24-year-old Thompson made his major league debut on June 3, and he’s gone on to log a 3.31 ERA and a 4.05 FIP over 16-and-a-third innings. Working primarily out of the bullpen, he’s allowed 13 hits, issued five free passes, and fanned 13 batters. No. 9 on our newly-released St. Louis Cardinals Top Prospect list, Thompson has thrown his arguably-best-in-the-system curveball 32.8% of the time.

———

Zack Thompson: “Growing up, my dad was always protective of me throwing breaking balls, so I didn’t start throwing one until I was a junior in high school. That’s when we began messing around with a curveball. We started out duct-taping two tennis balls together — my high school pitching coach, Jason Dudley, came up with the idea — and I just kind of flipped those to get the shape. It’s actually a lot easier to get feedback off of that. That’s kind of how it got started for me, and I ran with it from there.

“As I got older, I obviously started refining it more. The shape has essentially stayed the same, although I did have to cut down a little bit on the movement. That happened in college. Honestly, it was just too big. It was also too slow. Cutting down on the movement, my command got better, and the pitch also got a little bit sharper. Read the rest of this entry »


Seattle’s George Kirby Commands His Repertoire

George Kirby
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

George Kirby is off to a solid start in Seattle. Since debuting with the Mariners in early May, the 24-year-old rookie right-hander has a 4.04 ERA and a 4.73 FIP (numbers that were markedly better before last night’s career-worst outing) to go with 49 strikeouts in 53 innings. Lending credence to scouting reports — our Eric Longenhagen lauded not only his high-octane heater, but also his plus-plus control — Kirby has issued just seven free passes.

Drafted 20th overall in 2019 out of Elon University, Kirby ranked No. 3 on our 2022 Seattle Mariners top prospects list. Kirby discussed his early career development, including what he’s learned from analytics, earlier this month.

———

David Laurila: You’ve had access to a ton of information playing in the Mariners’ system. What are some of the ways you approach pitching differently than you did just a few years ago?

George Kirby: “One thing I’ve really tried to hammer on is being location-based. I look at the analytics for certain pitches. With my slider, for instance, there is my release point and the horizontal movement. There are good tools to see where you’re at and kind of how to manage your off-speed. I’m always looking at that stuff.”

Laurila: By location-based, I assume you’re referring to how your pitches play best in certain zones?

Kirby: “Yes. With the Mariners, we have our ‘green clouds,’ which show the best pitch in that location in certain counts. I try to really focus on that. And one of the biggest numbers is that 94% of the time when you throw a first-pitch strike, you’re either getting the ball back 0–1 or it’s an out. That’s a huge part of pitching — not being scared of the zone and allowing that first pitch to work in your favor.” Read the rest of this entry »


Cardinals Rookie Brendan Donovan Believes in Line Drives

© Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Brendan Donovan knows who he is as a hitter. The St. Louis Cardinals rookie is at his best when he’s hunting line drives, and that approach has been working like a charm. Two months into his big-league career, the 25-year-old is slashing .315/.426/.448 — with 14 doubles and one home run — in 197 plate appearances. Moreover, his 146 wRC+ is tops among qualified first-year players.

A left-handed hitter whom the Cardinals selected in the seventh round of the 2018 draft out of the University of South Alabama, Donovan is coming off a 2021 season that saw him climb from High-A to Triple-A, then excel in the Arizona Fall League. That meteoric rise continued this spring. Donovan earned a promotion to St. Louis in late April, and all he’s done since arriving is spray line drives. It’s what he does.

Donovan discussed his swing and approach when the Cardinals visited Fenway Park earlier this month.

———

David Laurila: How have you developed as a hitter since coming into pro ball?

Brendan Donovan: “We made a change in our hitting department — Jeff Albert, Russ Steinhorn, and those guys came in — and I was someone that made contact, but it wasn’t always quality contact. What we did is put me into a better body posture, better positioning, more tilt over the plate. I learned how to load the back hip a little better and flatten out my path. From there, it’s basically, ‘Let’s just try to get on plane, and see how long we can stay on plane.’ That’s helped me with fastballs up, and given me more adjustability on breaking balls and changeups, because I’m in the zone longer. Read the rest of this entry »


Sunday Notes: Jordan Lyles Knows What it’s Like to Lose

Jordan Lyles plays for a Baltimore Orioles team that stands 34-39 and is currently projected to finish 72-90. For the 31-year-old right-hander, that qualifies as more of the same. Lyles is in his 12th big-league season, and not once has he played a full year with a team that finished above .500. Moreover, he’s been on four clubs that lost 100-plus games. The worst of the worst was the 2013 Houston Astros, who went 51-111, a staggering 45 games out of first place.

The three seasons in which he’s played for multiple teams haven’t been much better. In each of those years, one of the two clubs he took the mound for ended up losing over 90 games. To date, Lyles has never pitched in the postseason.

That he never anticipated such a dearth of winning would be stating the obvious. Selected 38th-overall in 2008 out of a South Carolina high school, Lyles entered pro ball with the same lofty hopes and dreams as his draft-class peers. When you’re young and talented, visions of championship glory come with the territory.

He did reach the big leagues in relatively short order. Seventeen when he signed, Lyles was a precocious 20 years old when he debuted with the Astros in 2011. His first outing was a harbinger of things to come. The fresh-faced youngster allowed just a pair of runs over seven innings, only to see the bullpen blow the lead, depriving him of a win. At season’s end, Lyles was 2-7, the team 56-106. Read the rest of this entry »


Miami Marlins Prospect Cody Morissette Is New Hampshire Proud

© Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

MLB history includes 54 players born in the state of New Hampshire. Cody Morissette is hoping to become the 55th. A 22-year-old infielder who was drafted 52nd overall last year out of Boston College, Morissette is No. 11 on our newly-released Miami Marlins Top Prospects list.

A Manchester native who attended high school in Exeter, Morissette excelled at the collegiate level — he posted a .337/.400/.507 slash line in his three seasons as an Eagle — while being overshadowed by a high-profile teammate. Sal Frelick, himself a native New Englander, was taken 15th overall last year by the Milwaukee Brewers.

Morissette, who is slashing .232/.314/.444 with 12 home runs for the High-A Beloit Sky Carp, touched on his New Hampshire roots, and his big league aspirations, earlier this week.

———

Morissette on his three-homer game on June 17:

“That was a special night for me. Along with being able to help the team win, it was really cool to hit three home runs, because it’s the first time I’ve done it on a big diamond. Baseball is a weird game. The night before, I was 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. I wanted to come back the next day and respond in a good way, and three home runs was definitely a good way to respond.”

On reports that he projects as hit-over-power: Read the rest of this entry »


Andrew “Big Country” Chafin Throws a K.I.S.S. Slider

© Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The Learning and Developing a Pitch series is back for another season, and we’re once again hearing from pitchers on a notable weapon in their arsenal. Today’s installment features Detroit Tigers left-hander Andrew “Big Country” Chafin on his signature slider.

Chafin has a keep-it-simple-stupid [K.I.S.S.] approach to his best pitch, and it’s hard to argue with success. Since the start of last season, the mustachioed southpaw boasts a 2.17 ERA and 2.78 FIP over 94 relief outings, allowing just 62 hits and fanning 88 batters in 87 innings. Chafin has thrown his breaking ball 35.8% of the time this year.

———

Andrew Chafin: “I hold a curveball grip, throw it as hard as I can, and it comes out a slider. So, is it a curveball or a slider? I guess whatever it does is what it is. Really, I don’t care what people call it as long as the hitters swing and miss. If that happens, I’m happy.

“I want to say I started learning [a breaking ball] in my junior year of high school, give or take. I don’t remember who I was working with in particular, I just found a grip that felt comfortable, and I tried to make it spin. There’s nothing special about how I grip it or throw it. Read the rest of this entry »


What Is It Like to Work With Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto?

© Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

Miguel Cabrera, Albert Pujols, and Joey Votto are three of the best hitters of our generation. All are future Hall of Famers. They are also aging veterans. The illustrious threesome has combined to play 58 big league seasons, with Votto the baby of the bunch at 38 years old. Cabrera is 39. Pujols is 42. Their cumulative experience is nearly as notable as their prodigious statistical accomplishments.

What is it like to work with legends like Cabrera, Pujols, and Votto? I asked that question to their current hitting coaches: Detroit’s Scott Coolbaugh, St. Louis’ Jeff Albert, and Cincinnati’s Alan Zinter.

———

Scott Coolbaugh on Miguel Cabrera

“It’s a privilege and an honor to be around somebody as good as Miggy. He’s obviously a future Hall of Famer. To accomplish the things he’s been able to is eye-opening. I obviously haven’t been around him his whole career — just the last few years — but the way he goes about his business, and the enjoyment he has in the game… he’s still a young kid, even though he’s 39 years old. He treats it like a game. He has fun with it. He keeps it simple.

“Everybody is in awe of how pure of a right-handed hitter he is, how pure his swing is. The things he can do with the baseball a lot of guys have worked hard to do just one time. He does it on a consistent basis. It makes you a better coach to be around somebody like that, to see how he goes about it, and hear what his thoughts are. To sit in a cage and have the conversations with him… and sometimes it’s not even about hitting. It’s about how simple he keeps the game. Read the rest of this entry »