This discussion will be about hitting and fielding coaches for professional pitchers. Big Dog Baseball USA will improve the game with a lot of different ideas, from youth to the big show! This is one of my ideas that I would love to have some comments.
The pitching coach at the professional level has the responsibility of teaching the pitchers how to get hitters out. I will be concentrating on the hitting and fielding part of the game. Most pitchers at one time were probably good hitters at some time in their career. I bet the majority played two positions in high school and were probably good at both.
College baseball and the minors most or all run the DH in all of their leagues. So by the time a pitcher is at the MLB level he hasn’t hit since high school.
The major league level has expanded the number of coaches that are allowed in the dugout to a total of seven. Up until this year the extra hitting coach could not be in the dugout. I have been a supporter of two hitting coaches and really like to have one that was a left handed hitter.
The problem with MLB is they do all of their drilling in spring training. They on the most part do not practice the pitcher covering first base or pick offs during the season. Heck most don’t even take infield practice, this really bothers me. Here is a past article-http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/mlb-needs-to-start-taking-infield-practice/
This coach is very important to the organization and should not to be taken lightly. He will be in charge of these pitching coaches all through the organization and makes sure everybody is on the same page. I would have one of these special coaches for two teams at the minor league level, and they all report to the head man of the program at the major league level.
The Major League level there is a lot of work that needs to get done. From what I have read is the Cardinals do more with the pitchers on this subject than most of the other teams. The pitchers have some friendly competition and some humor.
The pitchers do a lot of long distance running, I would do short sprints that will build cardiovascular and save time. Baseball is a game of relaxed concentration and explosion.
My pitchers would be the best bunters on the team. How is this done, repeat, repeat and repeat some more. This is after they learn the proper way lay one down. There will be a lot of cage work and different levels that have to be successful then move to the next.
- Soft toss from the front, bunter concentrates on first base line and success on ten pitches. I would do about three, three and three- outer half low, waist and up in zone. Do the same for the inside half. This is like my hitting program, you can’t move to the next level until you have success. This has to be aced and then do the same to the third base side.
- Same procedure but challenge the bunter with more velocity on your tosses.
- Move the screen back and throw over handed and do the same procedure. Do not challenge with more velocity until the bunter is successful. Once this is accomplished then start to change speeds.
- Now is the time to go to the full pitching distance and have the pitcher throw at 80% velocity and then when the bunter is doing well throw in some breaking balls. The pitching can be part of the pitchers throwing program or this can be done by the hired batting practice pitchers.
- The bunting is completed and it is now time to hit. Here is the link that needs to be followed. http://baseballcommentary.com/2013/03/the-best-hitting-program-in-america-3/
- The pitcher has graduated and is now ready to do some hitting on the field. They need to let the position hitters get their repetitions and try to squeeze in some bunting and hitting of their own.
- This will all take some time in the spring but once this work is done, you can do a maintenance program to stay sharp.
We can now add the fake bunt and hit away. This can be practiced and is a good weapon during a game. The infield is moving to defense a bunt and the hitter fakes a bunt and then swings away. Some of my position players will learn how to do this and some of the following information correctly. Why not do this with nobody on base, keep the defense thinking and moving.
The pitchers should all know how to shorten up and to place a ball to the right side. I have seen managers when there is a runner on second base and no out, always have the hitter bunting. This drives me crazy; you don’t want the opposition to know that you will do the same strategy all the time.
On a bunt play with a runner on first the shortstop will go to cover second base, there is a hole that is created, work your hitters on hitting grounders to the vacated area. The same can be said for the area vacated by the second baseman.
The coach needs to pound into the players to hit the ball on the ground in some game situations. The hitter can shorten up and the hit and run can be put on. A good manager will keep the defense guessing.
In the past a pitcher would throw the pitch up in the zone if he figures the batter will be bunting. This pitch is more difficult to bunt, I don’t see this done much in today’s game. If this is being done then you can fake and hit away, it could be a real hittable pitch.
There is a need to practice fielding with the pitchers and this can be just doing pickups. This should be done every day, if just ten grounders for each pitcher. There needs to be time for fielding practice, bunt plays, grounders, covering first base, and turning the double play. This has to be done during the season and not just in spring training. I think this can be improved at all levels and needs to be drilled at a young age.