Papi goes back to T-Ball

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This entry was posted on 5/19/2008 12:00 AM and is filed under uncategorized.

Here’s a quick conversation with Red Sox hitting coach Dave Magadan after yesterday’s two homer performance from resurgent DH David Ortiz. Big Papi has been on fire since the beginning of May, and the hot hitting streak can be traced back to an April 30 change to Ortiz’s hitting routine.

Magadan convinced Ortiz to start hitting off the hitting tee for the first time in his highly decorated career, and the designated hitter has been driving the ball to all fields and hitting .354 with five home runs and 16 RBI since the beginning of May. Perhaps this will end all the ridiculous chatter that Ortiz is headed for the same sharp early 30's decline that awaited the much puffier, better-baseball-by-chemistry-believing Mo Vaughn.

How much has his success lately been linked to going opposite field?
With him it’s just like any hitter, driving the ball to the opposite field sets up his swing to be able to pull the ball. When he gets too pull-conscious he’ll hit a lot of ground balls to the pull side and a lot of lazy fly balls to left field. When he’s driving the ball to left field his swing works out that he begins to put the ball in the air to right field with some backspin on it. It keeps him on the baseball and it keeps him seeing the baseball a little longer, and when he’s doing that he’s pretty good.

How do you get a guy like Ortiz from being too pull happy, and what can do you as far as exercises go to get him back on the right track?
Well, you know he did something that he’s never really done before. He hit off the batting tee. We got him hitting off the batting tee and working on turning on the inside pitch and driving it up the middle and gradually worked on moving the ball away from him where he was driving the ball to left field. It was amazing. Once he started driving the ball off the tee to left field then it was taken right over to batting practice.

It creates a correct bat path. When you’re around the ball and your hands get away from your body, then you tend to cut your swing off and you start hitting a lot of ground balls. I can’t tell you how many times when he was struggling that he was hitting a lot of balls on the ground to first, to second, to first, to second.

He wasn’t hitting balls like he was today where he was getting them up in the air and getting some backspin on the ball. It was really hard for him to get the ball through [the defensive shifts] and a lot of it was getting him back to what he does well. Just driving the ball hard and driving it to all fields.

Was the hitting tee work something that you suggested?
Yeah, he had never done it before and he wasn’t a big fan of the tee. But I think he got to the point where he was a little frustrated with the shift and a little frustrated with hitting what he was hitting. He was just diligent about it and he was willing to do the work. That’s a testament to him.

When did you start doing the hitting tee work with Ortiz?
It started that last day of the Toronto series during the last homestand and we’ve been working on it since then.


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