What Mickey Hatcher Really Does – Part Four
Courtesy of Angels beat writer Matt Hurst of the Riverside Press-Enterprise:
Down they come, often in pairs, on their own time, to the hitting cage under the clubhouse. Hatcher will be there, trying to make it simple for them.
One emphasis for each. With the top of the order squared away, the most recent challenges have been Mike Napoli and Chone Figgins.
Napoli marked Hatcher’s first "major mechanical intervention" three weeks ago, when the catcher’s unorthodox swing plane became too unpredictable.
The result: Napoli has six home runs his past 18 games, as opposed to one his first 22, with 16 RBI the past 17 games, after getting none the previous 12.
Then there was Figgins, who struggled with a .133 average after coming off the DL. The way Figgins has raised his average 78 points, by hitting .565 (13 for 23) during a six-game hitting streak, may be the most pleasing of all.
But don’t credit him for Figgins, Hatcher said. All he did was pair him with recent call-up Nathan Haynes, Figgins’ best friend and the person Figgins worked with daily in the spring.
"He just noticed something in my approach," Figgins said. "It helps since we’re similar hitters."
Hatcher also gets help from the likes of Guerrero, whose swing doesn’t get tinkered with.
"He’s a leader for us in the cage," Hatcher said. "You see him start out by taking the ball the other way. That really helps with all the Triple-A guys here. They come up and see Vlad do that and it sets the tone."
Hatcher calls it "the Angel way of hitting. It’s all about centering the ball and not taking a bad swing."