|Angels getting more patient thanks to Abreu|
Written by Bjoern Hartig (Contact & Archive) on July 15, 2009
Lyle Spencer of MLB.com brings us the story of Bobby Abreu teaching his teammates patience at the plate:
With batting coach Mickey Hatcher and manager Mike Scioscia preaching plate discipline from day one of Spring Training, the Angels have improved significantly in that area. It was evident in the way they got Andy Pettitte out of Saturday's game after 4 1/3 innings en route to a 14-8 victory.
"That was something that was stressed all spring," said Brandon Wood, the Angels' young slugger. "Having Bobby around, you can see how helpful that has been. You're seeing guys show more patience than ever before -- even guys like Torii and Figgy. I've really seen it in Erick Aybar; he's never been this patient at the plate.
"All you have to do is watch Bobby to see how productive it is to wait for your pitch, to stay away from pitchers' pitches that bury you in counts. He's a master, and his impact is evident in the whole team, really."
Abreu's locker is next to Figgins, and they're always talking about game situations, pitchers' tendencies and moves, anything and everything related to the inner game.
"Bobby has a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience," Figgins said. "It's not easy, believe me, to hit the way he does. It takes a lot of work, and it's hard to get it done in games.
"You have to spend time in the batting cage. The big thing is, you have to become confident hitting behind in the count. You have to be willing to take that close 1-1 pitch to get to 2-1 -- and be confident you can hit with two strikes."
Interestingly, pretty much the same story was told last season when Teixeira came to the Angels, but as I recall, the Angels did not really walk much more than before after the trade. This year however, their walk rate has increased from 8% (6th worst) to 8.9% (only 13th worst), but Abreu is probably responsible for most of it.
Anyway, my point is why do the Angels need players like Teixeira or Abreu to teach plate discipline? Isn't that the job of the hitting coach? Is Mickey Hatcher - who previously has always preached aggressiveness at the plate, not patience - not getting through to the players?