03-03-2012, 11:35 AM #1
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Mackey: Twins respond to Hardy/Ortiz comments
ESPN1500's Phil Mackey details the Twins perspective in what have become 'going-the-other-way' gate.
In terms of J.J. Hardy, according to hitting coach Joe Vavra, the Twins were trying to balance out the hitter who was completely lost at the plate.
"When J.J. came from Milwaukee, he really had a lack of confidence after getting sent back down to the minor leagues," Vavra said. "So what we were trying to do is get some balance back in his swing. We definitely tried to get him to use that pull side, but I think he hit some balls in our ballpark that didn't go out. ... Plus, he hurt his wrist....I was pretty happy with him. I think he had to learn a little bit more balance, using (opposite field) to get his pull side back, because he was probably getting out front a little too quickly. ... First it was get his old presence back, because he lost it. He had lost all the confidence. I said, 'We're not going to try to do anything different, we're just going to try to get that confidence back.'"
Hardy was a mess at the plate in Milwaukee the year before the Twins acquired him. The Brewers made attempts to adjust his swing, even sending him down to AAA Nashville to correct what they perceived was a detrimental "arm bar". Shortly after the Twins traded for him, I had the chance to sit down with assistant GM Rob Antony, who said on Hardy:
TC: Working with Inside Edge, we noticed that Hardy was struggling with pitches on the outer-half of the plate, particularly from lefties, an area of strength for him in the past. Do you guys use information like that in any capacity? Do reports come in that show a hole in a swing that you might provide to [batting coach] Joe Vavra to look at further?
Vavra: I think we look at some of that, but I’m not sure it plays a role in whether we acquire or not acquire. I think it’s more “Joe [Vavra], here’s all of the information we’ve got, we want to fix this guy, he’s had two good years and they’ve obviously figure out ways to pitch to him.” Joe talks to different people, finds out his swing got long, started to bar out a little bit and he’s a guy that is tough on himself when he starts to struggle. He never rebounded from that.
TC: Quite a snowball effect.
Vavra: We’re hoping for a fresh start, number one. Number two, work on some of the mechanics. Joe’s looked at some footage of him. We got all that stuff, almost every at-bat from last year. They can break it down, sit with Joe and our people and go over all that stuff. That plays a role.
So the Twins were not alone on thinking Hardy needed some adjustments. The Brewers were also guilty of trying to change things up which likely made Hardy more open to advice from people like Rod Carew. Good or bad, Minnesota simply went about it by trying to get him to hit the 'Twins way' rather than re-connecting him to his previous strengths like Baltimore did.
Mackey also addressed perhaps Patient Zero of the 'going-the-other-way' approach in David Ortiz. Ortiz famously told the Boston Globe that:
"Something in my swing was not right in Minnesota. I could never hit for power. Whenever I took a big swing, they'd say to me, 'Hey, hey, what are you doing?' So I said, 'You want me to hit like a little bitch, then I will.'"
"Well we begged David to be able to hit the ball to (opposite) field," former Twins manager Tom Kelly said in an interview with 1500 ESPN on Friday. "But you're set up to drive the ball to (opposite) field. ... And then if they leave it inside, or they hang it, and something clicks, (you pull it) -- and that's experience, and that's knowledge, and that's trusting yourself."