Author Topic: Nationals @ Orioles, Game 2  (Read 5583 times)

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Offline sportsfan882

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Re: Nationals @ Orioles, Game 2
« Reply #175: June 27, 2009, 08:51:47 PM »
I don't read Chico's articles anymore. :lol:

Quote
About 1-1/2 months ago, Washington Nationals hitting coach Rick Eckstein approached Josh Bard and suggested that the catcher change his swing. Bard's swing, Eckstein said, had too many moving parts, too many variables that could betray him.

"It was hard to hear," Bard recalled.

Bard had always known his swing relied on lots of movement. But he'd used it successfully. In 2006, he'd hit .333 with nine homers in San Diego. "For a couple years since," Bard said, "I felt almost like I was chasing that swing."

After speaking with Eckstein, Bard stopped chasing his old swing and dedicated himself to learning something new -- a swing that relied on less hand movement and a shorter stroke. It took about two weeks for Bard to feel comfortable with the mechanics, and even then, he wasn't sure the basic movements could generate power. Then, on June 2, Bard homered against San Francisco's Tim Lincecum, the reigning Cy Young winner.

Bard, after that, believed in his swing. He also revived his season. Before June, Bard had a .174 average, splitting time with Wil Nieves. Ever since, Bard is hitting .400 (18-for-45). Tonight, he's starting for the fifth time in six games.

"We're trying to play the best team on the field right now, and we can't sit him right now," Manny Acta said. "He's playing well."

Bard, as he tries to maintain his new stroke, no longer takes on-field batting practice. The rapid-fire approach, with BP pitchers grooving easy-to-hit pitches, is counterproductive to what Bard seeks. Thus, he meets every day, in the early afternoon, with Eckstein. They head to the cages. Eckstein throws one pitch, waits, then throws another. He purposefully mixes in some balls.

"The swing I had before had a lot of movement," Bard said. "I've got long arms, long legs, so sometimes it's hard to get everything in unison. I think I was spending a lot of times worry about things that didn't matter. I spent so much time worrying about my swing that I never worried about what I was swinging at. Now I'm trying to slow down the whole approach."