Been to Port St. Lucie lately? Neither have I. But what has been down there is a new batting drill that will, hopefully, pay dividends come season time. Picture it: Man on second, bottom of the tenth, tie game, Citi Field. Can't do it? Ok, think of Shea. It works all the same. Wouldn't it be just dandy if a certain Mr. Wright came to bat and poked an opposite field single over the 2nd baseman's head to bring in the winning run? Yup. I thought so too.
Please welcome Jerry Manuel's new (and exhausting) batting drill:
Each hitter sees 80 curveballs. He must swing at every one and must try to hit the ball to the opposite field. There are no breaks, just a second or two between pitches to set your feet and steady your bat. It is designed to be completed in six minutes, but Howard Johnson, who clocked every hitter’s time on a stopwatch, said everyone in his five-player rotation finished the drill somewhere between six and a half and seven minutes.
The drill’s objective is to lay a foundation for smart situational hitting. The exercise improves hand-to-eye coordination, strengthens the hands and increases stamina, conditioning players to develop a more natural opposite-field swing while fighting through mental and physical fatigue to make contact. Toward the end, coaches, such as Razor Shines and Johnson, occasionally shout out game situations — man on third, two outs, game on the line — so hitters can envision a positive outcome. Line drives are preferred, but grounders and fly balls work, too. Contact must be made.
How great is that? I wonder what Silly Willie had the guys doing last year. Situational media talking? Opposite-field bat throwing? Did he advocate late night taxi rides to go pick up "Mexican food?" Whatever it was - the Mets listened. Let us hope that Jerry's plan works the same way Willie's did, because after all, fool's gold can be just as shiny.
And due to popular demand, for all those who want to see the clip from Seinfeld...
Here it is... Enjoy!