What Mickey Hatcher Really Does – Part Six
Bill Plunkett of the Orange County Register reports that Casey Kotchman gives credit for fixing his mechanical flaw to Mickey Hatcher.
It took Hatcher’s help to [bring out Casey’s good hitting], according to Kotchman.
The 24-year-old got off to a slow start and was hitting .257 with just eight RBIs through April 26. The next night, Angels cleanup hitter Garret Anderson tore the hip flexor tendon in his right hip, leaving a void in the area already considered their weakness – the middle of the lineup.
For the next 10 games, Kotchman looked like a young hitter trying to do too much to fill that void. He was just 5 for 33 (.152) with four RBIs.
"It never entered my mind," Kotchman said. "I don’t analyze things like that."
Scioscia also dismisses the idea that Kotchman’s slump was a result of putting pressure on himself to try and pick up the slack in the middle of the lineup.
"No, because he started hitting when Garret was still out," Scioscia said. "I think sometimes his swing got a little too big but I don’t think he felt he had to do too much."
Hatcher, on the other hand, agreed that Kotchman might have been trying too hard in Anderson’s absence. Whatever the reason, he bottomed out with a .224 average on May 10 in Texas. The next day, Scioscia moved Gary Matthews Jr. into the cleanup spot for the first time. The Angels’ offense – and Kotchman – took off.
In his past 27 games, Kotchman has hit .434 (36 for 79) with seven doubles, two triples, five home runs and 20 RBIs, raising his batting average almost 100 points in a month.
Putting his best foot forward just meant moving his foot. Kotchman attributes the surge to a slight adjustment in his stance suggested by Hatcher. He had been standing with his feet parallel, squared up to home plate. Now, he has opened up his front foot, pointing the toes more toward the shortstop.
"I was locking myself up, therefore I was compensating by getting jumpy and rushing my hands," said Kotchman, who missed Sunday’s game with a bruised right elbow suffered when he was hit by a pitch Saturday.
"Just watching his swing, I thought he was having a hard time clearing his hands," Hatcher said. "It was something his dad (long-time Angels scout and minor-league coach Tom Kotchman) had suggested, too. We just thought it’d be easier for him to get a straighter path to the ball."
At the same time, it has allowed Kotchman to take a straighter path to realizing his potential.
"It certainly got him to a comfort level at the plate," Scioscia said of the adjustment. "We’re seeing that potential that everyone saw in Casey. It’s coming to fruition."
Previous entries in this series: