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July 8, 2011

Can a hitting coach change things?

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ July 8, 2011 12:30 pm
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Wischnowsky @ WSCR:

A few years ago, John Levesque, sports columnist for the now defunct Seattle Post-Intelligencer, tried to answer that question when he wrote, “When it comes to imparting knowledge and teaching the principles of hitting, big-league hitting coaches really don’t do much of either…

“Even if they tried to teach hitting, they’d run into a solid wall of resistance from self-centered, supremely focused athletes who’ve made it this far on talent and ability and aren’t about to change their swings for anyone, even if he’s got street cred in Cooperstown.”

Former Minnesota Twins hitting coach Rob Ellis, who wrote a book with Hall of Fame slugger Mike Schmidt about hitting, took things a step further.

Ellis told Levesque, “There’s very little solid instruction going on [at the major league level]. The hitting coach tends to be a PR guy, a hitter’s best friend, a security blanket, a go-to guy for salve on his wounds, a friendly guy who’s a little bit psychologist and a little bit con man…

“I never met one truly effective hitting coach. The system is not set up to teach hitting.” …


February 13, 2010

Walt Hriniak on Frank Thomas

Filed under: Chicago White Sox — The Wizard @ February 13, 2010 12:12 pm
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Employing Hriniak’s unique front-foot hitting style that included finishing swings with one hand on the bat, Thomas finished an 18-year career with 521 home runs, 1,701 RBIs, a .301 career batting average and a .419 on-base percentage. He was a contact hitter trapped inside a slugger’s body with one of his generation’s most discerning eyes at the plate (1,667 walks).

“This isn’t any BS,” said Hriniak, Thomas’ personal hitting guru who was the Sox hitting coach from 1989-95. “People ask me who was the greatest hitter I ever saw and I said if you needed a base hit, Wade Boggs, but as far as the best all-around hitter, it was Frank Thomas, hands down. He could win a game with a single down the right-field line or home run to left.”

Hriniak just laughed when asked if he ever tried to talk Thomas out of his unusual ritual of swinging a 3-foot, 5-pound piece of rebar — a steel rod that reinforces concrete — in the on-deck circle. He knew better.

“Never,” Hriniak said. …

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