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Who’s going to be “the guy'”
It’s the question Jay Grenier asked every group that visited the batting cage at the Anglers’ practice Sunday afternoon, a challenge to all hitters to square off and drive a pitch right into the “L screen” no more than 15 feet away.
If the hitter hits the screen he earns an extra round of swings for his group. If he doesn’t, the ball sails past the pitcher and the group picks up the balls lying around the cage.
It’s a competition but also a lesson.
“That keeps things loose at the cage but it also makes us want to really get a good pitch to hit,” said infielder Jake Rogers (Johns Hopkins). “Made me really focus and want to hit it.”
After tossing batting practice at the start of practice Sunday, Grenier was relieved by fellow assistant Alex Kocol. That allowed Grenier to lean on the back of the cage while offering a constant stream of advice while the Chatham hitters worked on situational hitting.
Swing at strikes. Don’t get yourself out. Leave it if you can’t go the other way with it. Find something you can turn on.
All Grenier’s pointers were thematic and tied to what promises to be the focal point of the Anglers’ plate approach this season: go after good pitches to have good at-bats.
“It’s great working on the small things and focusing on what can be done with every pitch and every situation,” said infielder Kevin Fagan (Stetson). “The pitching’s good up here so that’s going to be big.”
After bunting a few pitches down each line the players were given different tasks at the plate. That ranged from a concept as simple as driving the ball to the opposite field to hitting it into the outfield with an invisible infield drawn in and less than two outs on the unlit scoreboard.
Donnie Cimino (Wesleyan) said that he’s worked on situational hitting before but not to the extent that Grenier, and the rest of the Chatham coaching staff, has in just the few days of practice.
“It’s a lot about repetition,” Cimino said. “Just getting into the habit of seeing different pitches and doing certain things with them.”
After the repetitions subsided for each group Grenier jumped into what has become the apt way to end each round.
At first guys were passive to step up.
Matt Peters (California-Pennsylvania) was hesitant to be “the guy” for his group but when he stepped into the cage he hit a low liner into the screen and earned Cimino and Chris Shaw (Boston College) extra swings.
When Peters walked by Genier after succeeding in the cage Grenier said, “You can’t be afraid to make mistakes,” and Peters smiled and nodded.
And with the way Chatham’s preparing for the start of the season that’s just two days away, all hitters are getting ready to be “the guy” when the time comes.
Said Cimino: “I already feel better up there. You just have to be ready to do your job.”